One Owner, Still Very Much In Use

Someone once told me

life is like driving

with one headlight busted.

You can’t see much

but you can see enough

to stay on the road.


It sounded too close to destiny

wrapped up as a given

for those with cars

or perhaps even torchlight

to stumble on by.


In the moment before the train

do you ever wonder…

a side effect of an anxious mind

designed to keep you from harm

by popping ideas in your head

with enough force to flinch.


But it’s all unreal 

until enough breath is breathed

to put steel into the words

the ideas

that dance like paper on a line

in our heads.


New cars have automatic lights.

They come on when night falls

without the need

of human intervention.

My car is still old, growing older,

it comes with a choice to make.



  1. This poem seems to narrow down on that final couplet, like an arrowhead. It sent me back to re-read, and I wondered if it’s all about the contrast between “choice” and “destiny” – a state where we have no choice?

    In terms of the prompt, you incorporated the words so smoothly I wouldn’t have spotted them without italics!


    1. I wasn’t sure which ones I was going to use until I started writing. I redrafted the ending because the first one felt too similar to my other poems. I’ve found I have a tendency to end on the same note so I’ve trying to actively avoid sounding the same each time.


  2. For me, sometimes endings write themselves. My pen stops, and the last words written are like a dog whistle. There are people who avoid making choices. I make them quickly enough, but then have to live with the consequences.


  3. That choice means you are in control Carol. Whether things are clear or less clear, we are in control of our lights, ot our lives. May we always be. I liked this. Was that wonder just before the train wondering whether to jump, or am I bring way to dark and off base? I liked this piece!


    1. I think it’s called intrusive thoughts. It’s a way of your brain protecting you by going what if you did jump? You have no intention of going it or desire to, but your brain suggests it to make you more cautious about your surroundings.


  4. Nice lines: “But it’s all unreal

    until enough breath is breathed”

    I kind of wonder now if my old car turns on the lights at night without my assistance – probably not. I don’t drive enough to really need a car.


  5. I loved your word journey. I, too, cling to my venerable Buick LeSabre, telling those who wonder why I don’t buy a new car with all the new-fangled conveniences that I do not want a car smarter than I am!


  6. I had to search for the words they are so well placed/used in the flow here.
    I am so engrossed in the reading and then am hit with the ending….what it all comes down to is choice. When I think about it….what an interesting metaphor about life today with all our technological advancements so advanced that many times we just assume that’s the way it is. We forget…we have a choice or we used to have a choice…..standard transmission? What’s that? 😊


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