Driving in your car is not the same as
Driving in your silver ’09 Mini Cooper,
Singing persistent refrains that get exhaled from your heart
Like black smoke from your chain smoker of an exhaust,
Humming inconsistent choruses that bounce up and
Down, comparing speed bumps not to an elbow nudge
But rather to christening a pothole that may as well be your
Very own pocket-pistol when the speed limit says 55 and you say
That another word for rearview mirror is goodbye, or
I hope to see you again soon, or I’ll miss you in the meantime.
The gas pedal reminds you that the grass outside
The window and over your shoulder will never get cut
And the vista between a.m. and p.m. is only one letter,
But there are 14 letters and countless green lights in between that make distance make sense.
The signs on the road display too many arrows and
Sometimes they make you want to drive limp-wristed,
Spit your gum out the window and slam on your brakes
Because getting from point A to point Z involves
Yielding, haranguing, outflanking drivers whose
Bald tires hydroplane on soggy leaves and bad luck.
The jogger to your left wearing headphones and
New sneakers, running to catch the breath she sees
Just a centimeter ahead, cannot help the hitchhiker two miles
Down the road, on the right, wearing old clothes and
Carrying a sign that mentions something about “HOME”
Written in black, grainy letters that make you want to . . .
You pass them both.
Turn the heat up.
The beta fish on your front seat breathes with preciseness,
Becoming accustomed to the interior smell of the car and the
Way its body is being rocked in a hypnotic rhythm that
Coincides with the classic rock songs playing through your speakers.
Pumping your breaks creates waves and for some reason
You spend the rest of the drive wondering if that
Close-fisted hitchhiker will be reincarnated, and if so,
You hope that he will become the beta fish swimming
In a plastic bowl on your passenger seat,
Warm and content and home.
Driving is only a matter of counting down the miles,
Noticing when the road intersects with the bridge overhead,
Waving to friends driving red Mustangs and blue PT Cruisers,
And buckling your seatbelt after tying your shoelaces.
The safest place to be during a thunderstorm? In your car, trying to remember
The first time you watched the person you love blink, swallow, eat a cup of soup.
Fiction, poetry, and all that good stuff . . .