Author: Theresa Smalec

Branded and About Midnight by Elissa H. Nelson

Our eighth installment consists of two poems by Elissa H. Nelson. This pairing raises provocative questions about why many women today still “get burned,” so to speak, even when they are right. Moreover, why are many women conditioned to blame themselves for encounters lacking traction? Quietly haunting, Nelson’s poems speak to our current sociopolitical moment. *** Branded My path is cut off by another driver But the sun is blazing I honk the horn beneath the scalding emblem Burning my hand My palm pulls back But he is wrong I pound the scorching wheel again Burning my skin My...

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Valet Parking by John Beaton

This seventh installment features John Beaton’s “Valet Parking.” The poem is at once delightfully hyperbolic and a plausible depiction of the toxic masculinity we’ve come to associate with high-rolling leaders in all walks of life. “Valet Parking” also enacts a cultural revenge fantasy in the second person–positioning readers to watch, judge, and unexpectedly identify with the downfall of a man who ostensibly differs so much from us. *** Valet Parking Lamborghinis, Maseratis, Jaguars, and Beemers, Aston Martins, Morgans, Bentleys, Ferraris slick and sleek— your car makes you superior to your sandal-slapping neighbor who scrubs his Saab religiously on the Saab-bath day...

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DeSoto Love by Kim Goldberg

Our sixth installment, Kim Goldberg’s “DeSoto Love,” kicks off a cluster of poems exploring gender. Goldberg poses a seemingly funny question about why her female speaker had to hide in the trunk of her boyfriend’s car, leading to serious reflections on the relationship between driving and interpersonal agency. *** DeSoto Love The summer I was seventeen, my boyfriend (the first one I really loved) snuck me into the drive-in in the trunk of his 1960 DeSoto that I helped him paint the week before (abalone blue, like his eyes). And looking back, I’m not sure why I’m the one...

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My Cars by Charles Bernstein

This fifth installment is Charles Bernstein’s meticulous detailing of the cars that have moved him on his journey. More than just metal (or today’s plastic bumpers and fascias), cars are among the technologies that tell the stories of our evolving life/work.    My Cars My first car I got from a friend of a college friend who fixed up cars in his backyard in New Jersey.  This must have been in 1970 and if memory serves (and why should it?).  It was a 1963 Chevrolet Impala: a beautiful car in not such great shape; my sense is that I...

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Company, and the journey by Susan Rudy

In this fourth installment, Susan Rudy offers glimpses into a story of profound transitions. Moving back and forth between cities and families–her past and her present–during a year of loss, Rudy contrasts the unlikely comforts of public transit with the aseptic silences of driving alone. *** Company, and the journey Susan Rudy, 6 November 2017, London   A feeling of peace overcomes me as I bound up the stairs of the #91 double decker from the British Library. I love travelling with company on the journey. In London, I travel on foot, by bus, train, the underground. It’s a...

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