But before I got here,
I was driving home—in a free, wide-open mood
from Trader Joe’s,
had some nice, highly-spirited conversations
with half the staff,
turns out they all like me.
I sorta thought so but now
I sorta know so, and I feel great.
Not that I’m so nipple needy
but it’s true what they say about community.
Guess I won’t hide from it anymore.
Well, anyway ...
I was driving home from Trader Joe’s
just now, feeling the loose and casual
but overwhelming ZING! of humanity
right down my spine.
But I lost control of my car in the blizzard
that is still going on out here and
I went into a long skid
sliding straight at a tree
in a 35
the radio on number ... well, way up Loud—
Tracy Chapman singing
"Give Me One Good Reason."
Yesterday was so bad, I thought
as I slid toward the tree,
back home a box of senior citizens down the hall
smelling like The End.
Give me one good reason not to go
straight into this tree, sang Tracy,
as I slid closer to it.
But today felt so good.
It had been such a friendly afternoon.
Still sliding, I thought:
if this is it, if I'm about to get killed
this is a good day to go,
a good way to go
everybody liking me out at Trader Joe’s.
I settled into the skid
turned up the radio
but the car began to fish-tail,
spin, ballerina around, and I missed the tree
and everything else
The car and I were facing back west,
the road empty, the snow still sending mail;
I drove back in that direction.
This not the end.
And I didn’t really just get home.
But I’m on the way.
It’s cold and dark
then morning again, sun up
on the empty satellite parking lot
lots and lots of cars through the day
then night again, can’t see a thing, or anyone
all my metal chilled, my glass frosted over.
They must be coming back.
I watch the jets go over and over
over and over again, always the same jet sound
line of white smoke lays across the sky,
spreads out and goes away.
And the parking lot is empty again.
This feels lonely, even to me, a Van.
Especially lonely when it keeps repeating,
But they must be coming back.
Here comes the shuttle van again
and here come all the Thanksgiving families,
gathering somewhere, inside lots of houses, driveways
and garages full of motor vehicles, like every year,
and there goes that van again, emptied out
gone back to the airport for more.
You would think that someone would feel compassionately inclusive
about their own Ford Van.
I don’t think they know that I have a sense of compassion.
How would they know?
They don’t even know me enough to rotate my tires.
24 hours later
Well, ok. They aren’t coming back.
But I’m not going to let all my tires go flat over this.
I’m compassionate, but clever, too.
I have a plan, and I'm heating up my own wires
to turn on my radio—yeah, there it is—on!
Now I have romantic background music
for my romantic plan.
To start my own engine.
Been a while, nights and days revolving around each other,
so yes, the engine is cold.
I’ll keep trying.
Yes! There it goes, cough
so much smoke coming out of me,
I’ll let myself run awhile.
Listen to the music.
I'm vibrating all the way through;
my metal warming softer
my paint job coming alive again
my glass gleaming clear.
And the music, here, I’ll turn myself up.
Mozart, How I love Mozart. And I know this one well, Piano Concerto #20 in D Minor, K 466 - 2. Romanza.
They don’t know that, for a Van,
I’m compassionate, clever, and cultured.
But to hell with they.
Always getting my pistons in a knot
worrying about they.
I’m all warmed up, have my gas pedal down.
Goodbye parking lot. I’m off to race the jets,
leave my own vapor trail, but wait.
I don’t want to leave any kind of trail.
Twist a little to the left
again, again, once more;
I unscrew myself
and there go the license plates.
And I was plenty wild.
The black and white future looked like a turned off TV set.
All alone, nerves on the bone, a silent black telephone.
But one night, through the gummy venetian blinds
the boring brick apartment buildings, past all the time zones
up into the snow and moon-scented green pine forest
something finally showed up, shook and boldly shone.
[Oh fuck this poem and give me that phone,
I still want to get out of there!]