My Car
by James Ross Kelly

At seventeen I was driving my
Newly restored & shiny red 1951 Henry J
I’d worked on for 3 years,
With its rebuilt, “Kaiser Supersonic 6”
Down Highway 62, it is 1967 & I hit
Black ice, swerved off to the right,
Over-corrected went into
A spin down the straight stretch of road
That sat atop a 10-foot road bed being built
Over the valley floor, & was at that moment frozen translucently
To the black top— late February, it’s 11 pm
I’m coming back from my first real girlfriend’s
Middle-class tract home in Medford, Oregon, but suddenly
I’m spinning down the middle of the road &
As the little red car from the Highway
Is launched end, over end, through
The air towards a pasture I am thrown to the roof,
Then to the back seat, then back to the front seat, the
Next flip I’m in the back seat again, & the final spin
Rotates me again to the new genuine black Naugahyde front seats &
As it is coming down to the earth upside down &
Just before the crash landing,
The door opens & I’m thrown out,
As the car top is crushed to the seats,
Sober, but young & not ever having asked for a miracle
Other than from my girlfriend I wanted to marry,
& knowing nothing of death, I pick myself up out of the mud
& with a minor cut on my leg, I screamed,
“My Car! My Car! My Car!”

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My high school year book, senior photo, age 17 (1967).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Ross Kelly lives in Northern California. He has been a journalist for Gannet, a travel book editor, and had a score of labor jobs — the in-between jobs you get from being an English major. Most recently, he retired as a writer-editor for the Forest Service, where he spent the better part of the last decade in Alaska. He started writing poetry in college, and after college continued and gave readings in the Pacific Northwest during the 1980s. His poems have appeared in Westwind Review, (Ashland, Oregon), Open Sky (Seattle), Siskiyou Journal (Ashland, Oregon), Don’t Read This (Ashland, Oregon), Table Rock Sentinel, (Medford, Oregon),Poetry Motel (Duluth, Minnesota), Poems for a Scorpio Moon & Others(Ashland, Oregon), The Red Gate & Other Poems, a handset letterpress chapbook published by Cowan & Tetley (1984, Vancouver, B.C.), Silver Birch Press (Los Angeles), so glad is my heart (Duluth, Minnesota), Ray’s Road Review (Tennessee), The Effects of Grace (Florida), and Fiction Attic.