by The Cowl Editor on March 1, 2018


Footprints with James Brown lyrics
Photo courtesy of skillshare.com

by Marisa DelFarno ’18


His name was Jones,

and the whole bus was his soapbox.

Any regular on 21 knew about Jones;

his rep for being tossed out onto the pavement,

and his volcanically loud


while the mice of the bus,

myself included,

judged him in our collective silence.


He hid himself in the rear of the bus,

deep past the rows of sticky seats,

and his voice

held in by the foggy, closed windows,

and the metallic shell of the bus.


Till this day,

I don’t know what Jones exactly looked like.

He was more of an apparition;

a ghost with a deep, gravelly, and rambunctious voice.


He talked



but no one dared to join his conversation.

He only talked into the smoggy dirty air

enveloped in the bus.


One day,

he claimed to be a relative of James Brown,

and from Raleigh, “just like James Brown.”

A bystander fact-checked him,

saying Brown was from South Carolina.

Jones retorted back, “No, I am from Raleigh,

just like James Brown.”


We ignored him,

dismissed him as a loon.

And then,

he modulated his usual baritone voice

to a high pitched tenor real fast and

started to belt out

Get up offa that thing,

and shake till you feel better,


and hitting every note,



I sharply turned my head

to see if the real deal had materialized.

But sullen-faced strangers concealed him,

looking forward

at me,

at the front of the bus,

as they sat in their silence.

Turn around.


a legend.