What a disgusting blob in the pit of my gastro-intestinal
when Dad allowed Big Bro John to unpark our brand new Belaire
after the stain glass choir of 1st Presbyterian Church
and poor John missed and stricken faced in panic put a crease
down the entire side of the vehicle which Dad could not afford to fix
for three more years of salesman’s calls into purchasing office parking lots.
When I went for my driver’s license test I was so nervous I almost fainted
in the midst of parallel parking and broke down in trembling tears
of unspeakable depression when I miraculously still passed.
I must have known what would come next. Harold got me a double date
with this dream drum majorette we both liked for him and Ms. Nite
of the crush and Chemistry for me and since Harold wanted to make out
with the majorette he pressured me to drive to Munger and when then
Ms. Nite of the crush came over and kissed me, I lost control and put
Harold’s Dad’s white Pontiac dead in the dredge cut only a few feet
from a bridge abutment that could have killed us all.
Harold took the blame for insurance reasons. I hit my head in the crash,
passed out climbing out of the ditch, and was guiltier for not getting blamed.
Ms. Nite and I never talked again, but we never talked in the first place.
My first real kiss end up in the ditch.
Eventually after a first love affair with Larks I got out of the service again
and discovered Volkswagons and the back country roads of S.W. PA.
Perhaps, the war never ended for me, but oh, those suicidal turns passing on
those voluptuous hills the hurry to and from rented rooms with and without women.
Until finally it culminated in a nightmare journey from the factories of N.E. Ohio
to the coal fields of PA. with my son screaming out his bronchial soul in the backseat
unwilling to be held throwing his bottle at the phantasmagoria of ever changing windows
crying for hours at the motor being which constantly carried him in its mechanical bowels
when he only wanted to stop but we all had to go on and on.
Finally laid off once too often we packed everything in the back of a U-haul trailer and drove
night and day for the big city street of lights where there were buses and trains so that
the poor old ’68 V.W. ate its bearings on the way and was never the same until I unloaded it,
my last car in a big city used car lot. It was probably sold for parts.
My wife and I separated in year and I’ve been carless since dodging them in pedestrian panic,
eating their fumes, swallowing their sounds and awakened at all hours by their crashes.
I didn’t own one but could hardly say I wasn’t owned by them. Until now I dream of driving
(again) and try to decide if I should choose and armored Cadillac or a stringy little foreign car
Whichever the motor is running we all have to keep traveling but all my journeys are to the
James Van Looy has been a fixture in Boston’s poetry venues since the 1970s. He is a member of Cosmic Spelunker Theater and has run poetry workshops for Boston area homeless people at Pine Street Inn and St. Francis House since 1992. His work appears weekly in Oddball Magazine.