“Bright Red Car” from The Last Night of the Earth Poems by Charles Bukowski, author poet (Black Sparrow Press 1992) and yes, I know the car illustration is yellow but this car jousting is, well… just read it…
I try to avoid speed duels on the freeway but the most curious thing
that all my speeding tickets are when I am quietly driving
when I am in a high speed duel, darting in and out of lane
at near 100 m.p.h.
the police are never
when I get tagged for speeding it is for cruising along,
day-dreaming, at a mere 70
I received 3 such nonsensical tickets in 3 weeks so
I laid low for some time — 2 years, in fact, but today
there was a fellow in a bright red car, I have no idea what
model or kind
and I have no idea of how it all started but I believe that
I started it:
I was in the fast lane going about 70
and I caught the flash of bright red in my rear view and
as he swung out to pass me on the right
he was doing 75
and there was time for him to pass
then cut into the fast lane ahead of me
but something made me hit the throttle and cut him
locking him in behind an old lady with a CHRIST
SAVES bumper sticker.
this seemed to piss him no end
and next I knew he had swung over on my bumper,
so close that his windshield and my taillights
this pissed me no end and I was being blocked by a
green Volks directly ahead
but I cut right through an opening and shot
bright red went wild, spotted the far lane open,
roared over and gunned it
after that, it was just me and bright red
jockeying for spots.
he would garner a lead, then with a crazy gamble
of lane change I would regain the
during this duel my destination was forgotten and I’m
sure his was
watching him, I couldn’t help but admire his driving
skill; he took a few more chances than I
but I had a little bit the better machine
just about evened out.
we were alone: a freak break in the traffic
had set us free together
and we really opened
he had a short lead but my machine slowly gained; I
inched up near him,
then I was at his side and I couldn’t help but
he was a young Japanese-American, maybe 18, 19
and I looked at him and
I saw him check me out.
he saw a 70 year old white man
with a face like
the young man took his foot off the throttle and
I let him go.
I turned the radio
I was 18 miles past my destination but it
it was a beautiful sunny day.
* * * * *
Charles Bukowski (August 1920 – March 1994) a German American author, an influential, prolific and transgressive 20th century poet, short story writer, and novelist.
♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward