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Poetry Prompts

Monday Poetry Prompt: Driving

This week let’s write a driving poem or maybe a nobody’s driving poem. A couple of weeks ago Living Poetry attended a Science Cafe at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences where we heard a lecture on self-driving cars. Tara Lynne Groth, Anna Weaver and I wrote poems during the presentation and read them to the audience. You can watch the video below then post your poem in the comments.


About Bartholomew Barker

Bartholomew Barker is one of the organizers of Living Poetry, a collection of poets and poetry lovers in the Triangle region of North Carolina. Born and raised in Ohio, studied in Chicago, he worked in Connecticut for nearly twenty years before moving to Hillsborough where he makes money as a computer programmer to fund his poetry habit.


One thought on “Monday Poetry Prompt: Driving

  1. Before I watch, I just did a second (final) draft of a poem about driving for a contest. Considering that I was in the trucking business for 35 years, I should be able to do a bunch of driving poems, but so far only this:

    Portrait Three—Howard the Cat

    Nobody has to tell you what the gear shift rod is a metaphor
    for in this 13 speed big rig roaring into the Mojave on I-15 down
    the west side of the Sierras near Mountain Pass, CA back about ’78.

    That skinny-assed son-of-a-bitch sitting next to me high in the air seat
    resting his grimy right claws on the knob of the long hard stick knows too.

    I had just woken up groggy as hell from working 48 hours straight clearing
    out a big TV exhibition in Vegas and raise my blurred eyes above the
    shiny beige top of the door body to the bottom edge of the passenger
    side window and the white fence posts are going by like a movie film with
    most of the frames cut out. But it’s the unearthly quiet that woke me up.

    I’m the young boss of this crazy bastard, more or less, though it’s never clear
    to me or anyone if Howard actually has a boss. Howard the Cat: so called
    after his first big trip coast-to-coast came to a sudden close during a hurricane
    in Oklahoma. He was following Tommy, another skinny, but old, riverboat gambler
    looking kind of senior driver from St. Louis, old back then being 55, who took
    the reckless young Navy sailor under his wing when Howard first signed on to drive for us.

    Tommy was skinny too, but he drove for twenty years before power steering came along,
    and his hands and forearms were so big it looked for sure like he was going to fall
    forward every time he reached out to a counter to sign his paperwork or
    pick up a glass of Black Velvet straight, no ice.

    The daggone hurricane remnants flipped Howard’s entire rig off the bridge
    of the one interstate to land upside down across the southbound lanes of the
    one below the overpass, and lucky for Howard he only used up one life this time
    due to the cab coming loose from the chassis on the way down and shooting off
    in the red clay muck till it gently stopped. No one knows how, but it was right side up.

    “Damn it, Howard,” I say, “Exactly how fucking fast are we going right now?” He looks
    right and flashes his nicotine caffeine black-toothed crooked smile, gapped in the
    top middle where he still hadn’t had time to get teeth to replace the two knocked out
    by the steering wheel that day in Oklahoma, pushing to meet a schedule on another show—
    the only injury the mangy son of south Ohio got, with his preternatural aptitude
    for somehow always landing on his feet.

    “Hunnerd an’ ten,” he spits, cigarette ash dropping from the butt he reaches for the
    same time with that right hand, not needed for anything else, since holding on to the
    friggin’ wheel doesn’t seem to occur to him as something important enough to do.
    “I took her outta gear a few miles back – saves diesel. With this thing full up with freight
    and our weight, we’ll make it half-way ‘cross the desert ‘fore I have to rev her up
    and try an’ figure out what gear to pop it into.”

    Well, damn. I knew this ride to Anaheim for the next show was going to be faster than the daggone plane, but this was my first time flying in a freakin’ truck.

    It was dark and there wasn’t much to see so I said the hell with it and went back to sleep.

    This short one is related to driving too and it actually presages the idea of the driverless car since I wrote it originall about eight years ago. I like writing about Jack Kerouac; I find his biography and times very interesting:

    Life Is Just a Road in the Fog

    What all humans have in common
    is what they don’t know.
    Angelaurelio Soldi

    The Chinese philosopher, Chuang
    Tzu, wondered if his whole life
    had been nothing but a dream.

    I met Jack Kerouac, picked
    him up hitching in the mist
    of I-40. He said life

    is Benzedrine and booze, a
    fast car and a little sex, but
    if you don’t write it down

    man, did it happen? One
    of us got out later.
    The car kept going.

    Liked by 1 person

    Posted by Cal Nordt | October 23, 2017, 10:58 AM

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