Tribute poster honors essential workers and those we have lost

A new tribute poster dedicated to all essential workers debuted this week across the Metro system. The workers include our own employees— who have kept L.A. County moving— and our riders, many of whom are also essential workers. The poster also honors all those we have lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tribute includes works from two Metro riders: artist Manuel Lopez and poet Joseph Rios.

The featured poem by Rios appears suspended over a delicate line drawing by Lopez of a distinctly Los Angeles cityscape. The tribute will also soon appear on screen displays at stations and other locations.

Written during the early days of the pandemic, the tribute prominently features an excerpt from Rios’s poem An Ode to the Essential.

The poem was commissioned by Metro Art for Instagram in collaboration with the Poetry Society of America. It reflects the poet’s then-new experience of his socially distanced interaction with his Metro Bus operator.

We hope the poster will inspire riders to take a moment to reflect on all that has happened in the past year — and the unknown that is still very much with us today.

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And, here’s a look back at Rios sharing another excerpt from An Ode to the Essential in his original Instagram reading back on May 1, 2020.