Archives for posts with tag: automobiles

by Len Roberts

My five-year-old son rides the twelve-volt
   yellow car into the field
of wildflowers, beeps his horn
at the cat who zigzags madly
   before him,
switches on and off the low-density
   lights, turning around
just once to see I am still
It doesn’t matter, though, he won’t
   step on the brake,
won’t swerve around the first tier’s
   slope, instead goes
over it, out into the fields
   of straight spruce, where,
as he veers in and out of the rows,
it’s clear how much he is the driver
   my father was, speeding
to eighty miles an hour at the upstate
   New York winter curves,
the madman who whirled the Golden Eagle
   truck onto Lake George
ice in early April, drove it the entire
length trying to make a perfect figure 8.
The one who never once told me to slow down,
   to go straight,
who gave me two of his last four dollars
   an hour before he died,
blowing wheels of smoke into the yellow
   kitchen air, singing
with Tommy Edwards, Please Love Me Forever
into the idling engine of the night.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Len Roberts (1947-2007) was an American poet and teacher. His awards include a National Poetry Series award (1988), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Award for poetry (1991), two awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, and two Fulbright Scholar awards. His many poetry collections include Black Wings (1989), The Trouble-Making Finch (1998), The Silent Singer (2001), and The Disappearing Trick (2007).



by Donald Revell

An in-joke and the long days faltering
at the edge of fields just visible as we
drive on, the windows shuddering in twilight,
are parts of the songs. And we are traveling
faster all the time, no way to keep
up with them. Between ourselves and the night
coming on to uneasy towns like smoke
the songs are a commitment we do not make
that gets made for us. Our own words reshaped
into the reliable, broken speech of the next
town and all those after it. As we
drive on, we see each one of them escape
us, certain that it will reappear in the context 
of another song, the in-joke of the whole country.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donald Revell, born in New York City in 1954, is a poet, essayist, translator, and professor. He has won numerous honors and awards for his work, beginning with his first book, From the Abandoned Cities, a National Poetry Series winner. Other honors include the 2004 Lenore Marshall Award, two PEN Center USA Awards in poetry, the Gertrude Stein Award, two Shestack Prizes, two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as from the Ingram Merrill and Guggenheim Foundations. He has taught at the Universities of Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, Alabama, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada, served as editor of Denver Quarterly from 1988–94, and has been a poetry editor of Colorado Review since 1996. (Source: Wikipedia)


“Vision without execution is just hallucination.”   HENRY FORD


Photos: Stoskopfs with 1957 Ford Fairlane, John C. Stoskopf, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


While reviewing found photos from the late 1950s and early 1960s, I’m amazed at the number of photographs I find where people are posing with their Ford Fairlanes. I assume this occurred because they were proud of their cars and considered them beautiful. I have to agree. The Ford Fairlane of the late 1950s was a classic — a design that many consider a work of sublime art.

“I invented nothing new. I simply assembled the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work. Had I worked fifty or ten or even five years before, I would have failed. So it is with every new thing. Progress happens when all the factors that make for it are ready, and then it is inevitable.” HENRY FORD


In 2011, journalist Hari Kunzru interviewed Joan Didion for a British magazine and covered many topics, including  her 1969 Corvette Stingray, made famous in photographs Julian Wasser shot for Life Magazine in 1972. Here are some excerpts. (Find more at this link.)

HK: I read an old interview with you this morning, from when you were living in California [‘Joan Didion: Staking out California’ –  Michiko Kakutani, Joan Didion, Essays and Conversations] which said that the 1969 Yellow Corvette Sting Ray Maria drives in Play It As It Lays was actually your car.

JD: It was my car.

HK: Do you still feel connected to that woman? The woman who drove along the coast road to Malibu in a Yellow Corvette Sting Ray?

JD: No. At some point in the past year I think I twigged to the fact that I was no longer the woman in the Yellow Corvette. Very recently. It wasn’t five years ago.

HK: When you said you ‘twigged to that’, was that a moving on, a sense of loss –

JD: Actually, when John died, for the first time I thought – for the first time I realized how old I was, because I’d always thought of myself – when John was alive I saw myself through his eyes and he saw me as how old I was when we got married – and so when he died I kind of looked at myself in a different way. And this has kept on since then. The yellow corvette. When I gave up the yellow corvette, I literally gave up on it, I turned it in on a Volvo station wagon [laughs]

HK: [laughing] That’s quite an extreme maneuver.

JD: The dealer was baffled.

HK: The Corvette driver would mutate into the Volvo driver. Was that because you were leaving California?

JD: No, we had just moved in from Malibu in to Brentwood. I needed a new car because with the Corvette something was always wrong, but I didn’t need a Volvo station wagon. Maybe it was the idea of moving into Brentwood.

HK: You were really trying to embody that suburban role. So the Corvette was the car you were driving down the foggy road and trying to work out where the turn for your drive was, and where was just a steep cliff.

JD: Yes.

Photo: “Joan Didion and her 1969 yellow Corvette Stingray” Julian Wasser (1972), ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


EX-CAR (Excerpt)

Story by J. Robert Lennon

We got rid of our old car and immediately regretted our decision. It wasn’t that our new car was unsatisfactory; in fact it ran more smoothly and reliably than the old one ever had, even when it was new. But the old car had acquired a “personality” assembled from memories of our lives during the time we owned it, and we found that we missed it deeply…

A few months after selling the car, we saw it in the parking lot of a restaurant in a nearby town. Our initial reaction was to deny that it was our old car, as the restaurant was of a decidedly inferior quality and, obviously, a place our car would never go. But this car was dented in the same place as our ex-car, and two of the six letters of its chrome nameplate were broken off as they had been on ours, and so there could be no doubt.

 …we had to go into the restaurant and ask the new owner if we could buy it back. He thought it over while he chewed on a fish stick, then told us we could have it back for twice the price he bought it for.

 We gave the offer serious consideration, but ultimately decided to reject it. On the way across the parking lot I opened up the hatchback of our ex-car and stole the jack. I don’t know why I did this; it certainly wasn’t in the best interest of our ex-car; but I still have the jack and have not seen the old car again. 

Photo: Gordon Thomson, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

“Ex-Car” by J. Robert Lennon is included in Pieces for the Left Hand: 100 Anecdotes by J. Robert Lennon. TIME OUT (London) called the collection “Unsettlingly brilliant.” Find the book at



Poem by Charles Bukowski

I had a most difficult job

starting my 14 year old car today

in 100 degree heat

I had to take the carburetor off

leap back and forth

adjusting the set-screw,

a 2 by 4 jammed against the gas pedal

to hold it down.

I got it going — after 45 minutes —

I mailed 4 letters

purchased something cool

came back

got into my place

and listened to Ives

had dreams of empire

my great white belly against

the fan. 


“Success” by Charles Bukowski is part of his collection entitled Play the Piano Drunk Like a Percussion Instrument Unitl the Fingers Begin to Bleed a Bit. Find the book at

Photo: Tara Holland, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



Poem by Charles Bukowski

stuck in the rain on the freeway, 6:15 p.m.,
these are the lucky ones, these are the
dutifully employed, most with their radios on as loud
as possible as they try not to think or remember.

this is our new civilization: as men
once lived in trees and caves now they live
in their automobiles and on freeways as

the local news is heard again and again while
we shift from first gear to second and back to first.

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

the other cars force their way around his car, pull out into
the next lane in front of cars determined to shut them off.

in the lane to my right a driver is being followed by a
police car with blinking red and blue lights – he surely
can’t be speeding 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

I just hope it’s not mine as

the wall of water diminishes and we go back into first
gear; we are all still
a long way from home as I memorize
the silhouette of the car in front of me and the shape of the

driver’s head or
I can see of it above the headrest while
his bumper sticker asks me

suddenly I have an urge to scream
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

Photo: Bright Fizz, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 


During the past few months, we’ve written posts about Dennis Hopper‘s love of photography. These include several posts about his iconic photograph “Double Standard” and a post about his self-portraits. We’ve noted that much of the daily traffic to the Silver Birch Press blog comes through search engines — and every day people are searching for articles about Dennis Hopper, photographer.

While visiting San Francisco in 1964, Hopper shot the photo reproduced above. Called “The only ism for me is Abstract Expressionism,” the photo speaks volumes about Hopper and the owner of the Plymouth with license plate JQR661.

Hopper’s photos are often witty and filled with irony — and this one is no exception — and he seems to revel in the bumper sticker’s proclamation that, for some, art takes the place of politics, philosophy, and religion. In 1964, most of the people who felt this way drove old (this model is probably from the late 1940s or early 1950s) cars and were proud of it!

For the record, the leading abstract expressionist artists were Jackson Pollack, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko.

Photo: “The only ism for me is abstract expressionism” by Dennis Hopper, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.