the lucky ones

stuck in the rain on the freeway, 6:15 p.m., stop, then
first gear, then stop, these are the lucky ones, these
are the employed, most with their radios on while lighting
cigarettes, trying not to think.

this is a large portion of our civilization and as beings
once lived in trees and caves now they very often live
inside of automobiles upon freeways

as the world news is heard over and over, the popular
songs, the rock songs, the love songs, all the songs,
love songs, love love love as
we shift from first gear to neutral and back to first.

there's a poor fellow stalled in the fast lane, hood up,
he's standing up against the freeway fence
a newspaper over his head in the rain

the other cars force around his car, pull into the next
lane against cars determined to shut them off.

in the lane to my right a driver is being followed by a
police car with red and blue lights blinking -- this one
can't be a speeding ticket as

suddenly the rain comes down in a giant wash and all the
cars stop and

even with the windows up I can smell somebody's clutch
burning out

hope it's not mine as

the wall of water diminishes and we go back to first
gear as we are a long way from Johnny Carson's monologue
tonight
we are a long way away from anything as I have memorized
the shape of the car in front of me and the shape of the
driver's head
what
I can see of it from above the headrest of his seat and
his license number: STK 405 and his bumper sticker:
HAVE YOU HUGGED YOUR RAT TODAY?

suddenly I have the urge to urinate while 17 miles from
where I live as another wall of water comes down and the
man on the radio announces that there will be a 70 percent
chance of showers tomorrow night.

Appears (in an edited form) in The Night Torn Mad With Footsteps

©Linda Lee Bukowski - used with permission