The Feng Shui of Car Chit Chat

I say I’m thinking of a book She tells me where to turn.
on lost practices to places. There’s a space, she says,
She offers or a poem about expecting me to pull into it
true and correct directions, and park, and when I don’t,
and tells me to hang a right she hums a bit vexatiously
at the light that turns green. at our dual needs to control.
The real question is how to We’re in the car a long time
enter a poem without hurt, to and from, back and forth.
and once in, to sweep clean She prefers driving modus,
the wrecked words of glass handling the stick so softly,
littering from here to there not to foreshadow distance
the streets of conversation. the clutch to engage slowly.
We unload the grocery bags. The winds tipped over a pot.
She holds the milk and wine. A couple of chairs blew over.
There are flowers for a vase. The clocks tell the electrical.
The car off cackles and cools. I map a plan from the guitar
The house is an ancient map to the kitchen, avoiding trills,
in a bottle tossed must ocean. my socks stilled in tambour.


  1. philipparees says:

    The music of the ordinary in a walnut shell of words. Loved it.

    1. Joe Linker says:

      That’s cool. To find the saving remark in the unremarkable. Part of the idea is that we spend so much time wrapped in the ordinary, and where should we look for poetry? We try to distract, the car radio, for example, fancy shoes. Or we exaggerate, and go in for superstuff. But there’s nothing so remarkable as the commonplace. Catastrophe and extravaganza, yes, there will be time. Meantime, boredom and anxiety threaten. But there is enough in the everyday moment to enthrall. We seem to have ways of seeing these things, differently, of doing things, custom, what side of the road to drive on, and some of these rules, no, we don’t want to break, but where are the driving directions to navigate the ordinary in such a way as to reveal the underlying miracle of the shape we are in?

  2. A fresh breeze, your evocation of ordinary ripples in the small territories where we relate in intimate proximity and must navigate our vexations. You’re obviously good at flowing with the energy, being a surfer.

    1. Joe Linker says:

      I was thinking of a novel, a short novel, a hundred pages or so, about going to the store for groceries. That’s it. That’s the plot summary. Marguerite Duras was good with this, the drama inherent in the ordinary, where nothing seems to happen (Four Novels, for example: The Square, Moderato Cantabile, 10:30 on a Summer Night, The Afternoon of Mr. Andesmas). The big example is Joyce, whose Ulysses is a day in the life of Leopold Bloom, of course more than that, whereas my tiny novel would be literally a drive to the store. The protagonist must drive. He could walk, but that would be a different story, perhaps a sequel. The first novel (in the trilogy), tentatively titled “Driving to the Market,” would begin with a list. But first one must find pen or pencil and paper, always on hand when needed for the list, to this protagonist, anyway, who enjoys the habit of keeping a Moleskine Classic, unruled, an extravagance, yes, having moved up from the Joseph Mitchell single sheet tri-fold, which still works well when the Moleskine fills up, but the advantage of the Moleskine is that it provides some continuity and linear measure, whereas the tri-fold when unfolded contains as many as 24 unsequenced sections. Well, but that’s good. Never mind the Moleskine. “Driving to the Market” begins with a tri-folded sheet of folder paper which is half full, so 12 sections filled in, and 12 blank, the last one filled in contains the list for today’s to the market chore: what should the list contain? And, by the way, what’s the setting? Good question, because the wagon will have surfboard racks, empty? Or an old board, wax melting. What about time of year, time of day. So another section of the tri-fold list is filled in with answers to these important questions. Maybe the novel begins like this: “The last time he drove to the store, he forgot the list. He could have gone back for it, or used his cell to call home and have her repeat it, but he decided he would give his memory a workout. It was the least he could do, to keep active, since the store was only a mile away, and he could have walked. He didn’t like to say he should have walked. Because that suggested some sort of internal argument, when there was really no argument any longer along those lines.” But what’s on the list? Any ideas? Join literary history by submitting your ideas here!

      1. Spilling from the top of my head: greens, fresh garlic, goat’s yoghurt, eggs, smoked salmon, gluten-free bread, sea salt for foot-baths, sticky notes for more lists (moleskins too precious for lists.) Present for someone’s birthday, stocking up on candles, bottled water, toilet paper, shag, wine …

        1. Joe Linker says:

          OK! You’re in. I’m reminded of those posts you wrote about traveling around looking for the goat, “Goats are Goats.” The goat yogurt will be a first for this protagonist. Anyway, but what is “shag”? Tobacco? I like the birthday present idea. I was thinking just groceries. Writing is a process of making decisions, isn’t it? This list creates tension, for it’s not the list he’s used to. For one thing, he would go to a different store for the gift and candles and TP. Maybe our hero will need to go to a couple of different stores. The plot thickens.

          1. Ha, ha, yes, tobacco, And different stores, and don’t forget the parking. And the trance state that grips some people when wandering through supermarkets.

            1. Joe Linker says:

              Or the trance state that grips this protagonist at the mere thought of having to leave the abundant and warm abode for the wet and slippery street.

  3. bristlehound says:

    The clocks tell the electrical. Says so much about the mundane acceptance of things just functioning about us with little thought. The electrical world, the heartbeat of modern humanity captive in a vehicles timepiece. The power of modern man reduced to a tertiary glance.

  4. cannibala says:

    I map a plan from the guitar! Exquisite and innovative, absolutely love it.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s