Author: Theresa Smalec

Custom Car Parade by Laura Winton

Laura Winton’s “Custom Car Parade” is our 21st installment. This is also our first installment featuring a recording of the poet reading their work. Deeply in touch with our age of precariousness, Winton’s driver dares us to risk what little mileage we have left–and possibly win back something much bigger, like freedom. *** Custom Car Parade Who knew we’d make it this far already who knew that our hearts wouldn’t wear out so much sooner than this that the big one was this far off that we could spiral down this far without hitting bottom so hard it knocked...

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Beware the Beast by James Livingston

The title for Installment 20, “Beware the Beast,” is inspired by the visions of William Blake. The various beasts remembered here blur the lines between heroic and pathetic. They are flashes in the rear view of those broken, precious things that love resolutely tries to salvage. *** First car I bought was a ‘58 Ford, cost me fifty dollars, Three speed on the column, we called him The Beast: Already rusty, never had enough miles an hour. I loved that old hound, but he kept on breakin’ down, Lou and I spent two days just replacing the clutch: Already...

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Unlicensed Driver by Lylanne Musselman

Installment 19 reminds us that the topside of terror is often desire. Lylanne Musselman’s unlicensed driver violates the laws of the road, family, and gender. Evading the fear and self-doubt that our culture expects from teenage girls, she hazards the routes of adulthood with refreshing resolve.  *** Unlicensed Driver My first memory of driving was around 15 – I was waitressing at my uncle’s restaurant. Mom, dad, my aunt and uncle had gone home early for an adult party later that evening. My two younger cousins assigned to stay with me, were to be brought home by our designated...

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Red Rambler by Joel Long

Installment 18 is Joel Long’s “Red Rambler,” a poem whose speaker travels the hypnotic road of sense memory. One minute, we’re driving along in the present, tempted to look over bridge rails at water; the next minute, something triggers and we take flight, returning to the sights, smells, and sensations of a past we can hardly know. And yet we do know it intimately. *** Red Rambler My brother left the roach clip in the sun visor in grandma’s car. Though I never use it, I leave it there beside mirror and compass sphere, egg which rotated in fluid...

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Meteorite from Saturn and Blind Spot by Leah Mueller

Installment 17 is a white-knuckle meditation on luck and its aftermath. Leah Mueller’s two poems dramatize the strikes we never see coming, and invite us to feel those misses that were nonetheless very near.  *** METEORITE FROM SATURN The objects that strike from above are always the worst. Driving my Toyota Corolla down I-5 in a 9 PM Pacific Northwest rainstorm, a few miles north of Everett. Raining so hard I can barely see. Traffic like angry bees escaping from a damaged nest. Radio off so I can concentrate. Suddenly, the heavy crash of impact so loud the entire...

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