Archives for posts with tag: cars

Webb-Pullman Drive1
Custom Built
by Mercedes Webb-Pullman

My father built a car one day
to teach his kids to drive.
A mower engine, clutch and brake,
the smartest Dad alive!

A steering wheel, a seat, two gears,
one forward and one back.
We fought to drive it every day
around the backyard track.

Big brother had to make it go,
wind up the rope, then pull.
With driver and a passenger
the little car was full.

We mowed the lawns, did extra chores
to pay for all the fuel
until we worked out we could charge
the other kids from school.

When Dad came home from work one day
and caught us with the cash
and all the kids lined up for turns
he said we’d done our dash.

The little car was sent away
and, sorry little tykes,
we moaned and moped ’til Dad gave up,
and built a motorbike.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My mother and my niece Bianca taken at our home in Hillary Crescent, Napier, New Zealand, 1973.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My father was a watchmaker, a pilot, and an engineer. He built a car when my parents were first married and couldn’t afford to buy one. After that, he built a motorbike, Go Karts, and more cars, including the small one for us kids. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of this little car, but I  the photo above shows the car he was constructing when he died in 1972. My brothers finished building it.


Mercedes Webb-Pullman
 graduated from IIML Victoria University Wellington with MA in Creative Writing in 2011. Her poems and the odd short story have appeared online and in print, in Turbine, 4th Floor, Swamp, Reconfigurations, The Electronic Bridge, poetryrepairs, Connotations, The Red Room, Silver Birch Press, Otoliths, among others, and in her books. She lives on the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand. Visit her at

%22Thanks Dad%22 - Barracuda poem by Karen  Boissonneault-Gauthier
by Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier

There’s only one song that plays
when I get behind that wheel
a Power Girl, Power Ballad
because I’m gonna “burn into the wick”

Thanks Daddy for the muscles
and the keys given in my 20s
when I’m flexing and taking flight
’cause today the other dads think my husband owns
and can’t rack and pinion their brain around the fact
it’s been Mine all this time.
Asking who drives it, probing for ownership
playing the classic “whisper game,”
permanently baffled when he confirms I’m speaking fact.
Really? the Car’s from the ’60s, you’re Not

Cool to learn in a classic with a different driving feel
this ’66 Power Girl
Crankin’ her wheel, laced in a leather braid
’round and ’round in circular motion
learning this V8 speed
loves straight lines a little too much
while heads swivel to catch a glimpse
of the one sitting uninhibited, in white leather bucket seats
purring in tandem, searching for more straightaways
while 0-60 in 12.9 seconds reminds me more often than not
just how much time has already passed

Dad says I should sell now; that it’s time
but only 38,029 of you can do it my way
furthermore, it chauffeured me ’round on my wedding day
then took both babes home from hospital, five years apart
Memories live in this car,
they exist with her and stay with me in cities we’ve lived in
we haven’t looked back.
Now my babes adore muscle cars
and I may have to share my ride on a warm summer night
and let them grip the wheel
while knowing the song, the car and the feeling
complements more than just who I am
“Oooo, Barra-Barracuda”
I think they get it from me

Author’s note: Quoted lyrics / Heart / Barracuda lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

VISUAL ART: “Thanks Dad” created by Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier.

AUTHOR’S CAPTION: Here I am receiving the keys to a classic 1966 Barracuda from my Dad way back in the 80s. Kind of a big deal, right? Below the “passing of the key ceremony” photo is me 22 years later leaning on my Barracuda. Both of us are classic, but only one of us has the luxury to hibernate in the winter.

Head Shot-- Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier

Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier
is a photographer, writer and poet. She has shot cover art for Crack the Spine, Vine Leaves Literary Journal and has been published in The Scarborough Big Art Book and Lucid Moose Lit, to name but a few creative places she dwells. Her poetry has been featured in Calliope Magazine (winner of the 2015 National Poetry Awards). Follow Karen @KBG_Tweets and see her visual art work at

Learning Curve
by Elizabeth Alford

He was the expert back then, not me.
           I won’t extoll his abilities; they speak

for themselves, and I no longer speak
           for him. But back then, before I knew

how to drive, it was like watching him
           with another lover: how he caressed

the supple steering wheel with one hand,
           gripped the rigid gearshift with the other,

slid perfectly into the curve of every hair-
           pin corner—just like sliding into a woman.

He taught me the basics—of everything.
           I was just so tired of watching; of being

the voyeur in a four-wheeled affair con-
           stantly out of alignment, running on bald

tires, and in desperate need of a tune-up—
           whether we knew it or not. He taught me

a lot, actually. Like, never enter a turn too
           fast; slow down, get to know it a little, get

a feel for the curve. I wish I’d gotten that
           advice a little sooner in the race to starting

our life together. But we were so young;
           we couldn’t know our carefully mapped

plans would crash and burn. When he
           drove away for the last time, I learned

even more: how to reverse out of a drive-
           way at forty miles per hour. How to make

engines wail and tires scream in anger,
           leaving behind only the streaks and smell

of burnt rubber. How to cry like the girl
           I still was. And later, how to stop and pull

myself together—even when the twists
           and turns of love seem too much to bear.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Standing with my first love in front of his car, minutes before his senior prom, in 2003. I was 15.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My first love did teach me a lot, including how to drive—and how not to.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Alford is a magna cum laude graduate of California State University, East Bay (B.A. English, 2014). She lives in Hayward, California with her fiancé and mother and cohosts the reading group Poetry Express, based in Berkeley. Her favorite things include yerba mate, sushi, loud music on long drives, staring at the stars, and short poetry. Her work has recently appeared at Quatrain.Fish, PoetryExpressed, Silver Birch Press, Failed Haiku, and is forthcoming at Hedgerow. Follow her poetry adventures at


Drivin’ in L.A.
by Joan Gannij

I was 15 when my father said he’d teach me to drive. On the first day he told me to take Sunset and turn onto the Hollywood freeway. I froze, as cars zoomed by, oblivious to the 65mph speed limit. “Keep up with the traffic, God damn it!’’ he roared. I gave enough gas to ease to the shoulder. “Move over,” he commanded, walking to the driver’s side.

We spent the next three Sundays at the Covina mall. After grabbing a burger at In ‘n Out, I cruised the empty parking lot, he sat shotgun. This approach gave me the confidence to continue with driving lessons when school resumed in September. On the first day, a brawny gym coach, known for appearing in the Vic Tanny “health club” commercials, told me to start the engine, while a trio of students got in the backseat. As I prepared to pull away, the wheel wouldn’t budge. “Turn it harder,” he barked. But I couldn’t. He leaned over and turned it with zeal. I continued down Highland when the wheel suddenly broke loose in my hands, wires akimbo! Shrieks came from the back seat, as “coach” quickly took control with his own wheel and drove us back to school.

Six months later I failed my driving test because I knocked the poles down trying to parallel park. Eventually I was in possession of my passport to freedom. Except my mother couldn’t afford a car. She rented me one instead. Hertz had a weekend rate for $35 and I could choose between a brand new Impala or Galaxy convertible, in which I could accommodate five of my friends. We didn’t reveal this to any of the boys we met at Sorrento Beach or Tiny Naylors that summer. It just added allure and gave me serious street cred.

IMAGE: Ad for 1969 Ford Mustang.


Joan Gannij
never met a Mustang she didn’t like. She used to drive her ‘79 5.0 liter Ghia as fast as she could get away with, and often left Highway Patrolmen in her wake. In 2005, she finally learned how to use a stick shift on assignment in Haugesund, Norway, in teeming rain, in a half an hour, and put her skills to test along the fjords! She resides in Amsterdam, where she doesn’t drive but used to raise havoc on her bike until she had an accident. “Drivin’ in L.A.” is an excerpt from her memoir One Way Ticket, which is nearing completion. Thanks to the word limit of the LEARNING TO DRIVE prompt, she cut it in half and likes the pared down version. She teaches Creative Writing part-time at a private college in Amsterdam.

Author photo by Elli Safari


Driving While Greek
by Faye Pantazopoulos

Learning to drive was as stressful and full of drama as any other part of my life growing up as a Greek-American girl. Dating was forbidden so we did so on the sly. Covering up with lies about trips to the mall with friends. Driving was a big issue. Why did I need to drive? The parents were willing to drive me anywhere.

I waited till later. I was 17. There were lessons with Dad — who drove from the passenger seat, slamming on the brake to illustrate what I should be doing. There were paid lessons courtesy of Uncle George, one state over, the theory being I didn’t need insurance to drive in New Hampshire. I got as far as the driving test there, panicked and sideswiped a parked vehicle while parallel parking.

I was 19 and still unlicensed. Grandmother was visiting from Greece. My high-strung mother and newly religious grandmother took me driving in the Caldor parking lot. Mother yelled the whole time, in Greek, “What are you doing? You’re going too fast! Don’t hit that car!” Grandmother silently made the sign of the cross in the backseat. I could see her in the rearview mirror, closing her eyes. It was too much — too loud, too stressful, too confusing.

I swung the brown Oldsmobile station wagon around at a dizzying speed. “Go straight! Go straight!” mother screamed. And so I went straight — straight into the Caldor wall, slamming the brakes enough that we stopped and just tapped the wall. There were screams — “Is the car ok?” There were “amens” and there were tears. No damage to the car. That’s all that mattered.

PHOTO: Caldor Store, circa early 1990s.


Faye Pantazopoulos is
a Greek-American author and poet living in Exeter, Rhode Island. Faye attended Penn State University. She is working on a compilation of poetry about the muse and a Greek cookbook full of recipes handed down through the family.

Proving Ground
by Christina Marrocco

Near midnight in the mall parking lot,
empty but for me, my dad and any would-be robbers,
certainly laughing at the lurching.
A large laconic sort,
legendarily stoic, scattering children with a sweep of the eyes,
tonight, instead, Dad’s large and loud,
blaring from the passenger seat
of my new-used-bland-beige Ford Escort
with the goddamned stick shift.
He bought me this car that I can’t drive.
He did.

He’s so big that his what’s left of his hair brushes the roof,
and he’s spilling over into the driver’s area,
looming above my gearshift,
puffed up with annoyance and impatience.
How in the hell can one of his progeny,
a man who can drive a truck,
build a house,
lay concrete,
fight a war,
not grasp manual transmission?
How. The. Hell.
And yet, this is the automobile I must drive to work in the morning.

“For Chrissake! Not like that, not way over there!”
“You’re gonna wreck the goddamned transmission!”
“And you sure as hell don’t got the money to fix that!”
We switch seats like bitter square dancers
too many times in the bright mall-lit night,
him heaving out and marching around the back of the car,
me skulking past the front,
slamming our respective doors.
“See? Now watch!”
What he tells me to do looks so different from what he shows me to do,
but I can’t finish that sentence, or much else.
And so it goes,
Me watching, him hollering,
me refusing to cry, him looking a lot like Bluto.
And do si do, back to our corners
for more and more and more
of the same.
An impasse, not unfamiliar, but no one to intermediate—
Mom is at home—
And this could go on forever.
And the sun threatens to illuminate my incompetence.
And my father may explode into a billion sharp irritated shards.
And the shoppers may come to witness.
And I may never be able to drive to work…
Dad suddenly
swats my hand away from the gear knob,
and gets quiet, quiet-quiet,
“Oh, from this side it seems different; I’ve been kinda telling you wrong from over here”
That’s his first apology.
He pops it into first from the passenger side.
I see.
I stop trying to start in third gear, and drive
through the lot
down the street
towards home.
“Don’t make some big deal of it, okay?”
That’s his second.

PHOTO: Still from video on driving a Ford Escort stick shift.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christina Marrocco is an assistant professor of English at Elgin Community College in Elgin, Illinois. There, she teaches Advanced Fiction and Poetry Writing and various Literature and Composition courses, and has facilitated the Creative Writing Club and acted as the Assistant Director of The Writers Center. Christina holds a BA in English, an MA in Professional Writing and Rhetoric, and a PhD in Rhetoric and Late American Literature with a certificate in Women’s Studies, all from Northern Illinois University. Her poems “Buckle” and “Driving the Bicentennial” appear in the 2015 Laurel Review. She is currently working on a large series of prose poetry and a book of creative fiction. Christina grew up in a working class, Italian-American environment during the 1970s and 80s and became a teen parent and high school dropout. She did not begin her pursuit of academics until her mid-thirties, enrolling at the local community college. Though since that time she has attained much, it is the neighborhood confines and beauties, as well as the difficult experiences of her early life, that inform much of her creative work.

French fries
The Day I Almost Learned to Drive
by Kate Hodges

Joe volunteered to teach me how to drive. He drove to a half-full parking lot near a McDonalds and a Shop-Rite.

“I know that no one likes a back seat driver…”

Joe groans at my pun.

“But shouldn’t we go to an empty lot? You know, somewhere I can’t actually hit anything?”

“No. You’ll learn faster this way because you can’t screw up.”

There was a strange logic to this.

We each exit our doors and walk around the front of the car. He tries to give me a “low five” as we pass by each other, and says, “You got this.” But our hands miss.

I get in the driver’s side. The car is Joe’s dad’s, a loaner. (Joe’s car is totalled.)

I sink into the leather seats. The car smells like pine from the air freshener and the fries and milkshakes we’ve just bought. (“Be careful.” Joe’s dad doesn’t allow eating in his car.)

“Which is the brake and which is the gas?”

“You really don’t know?”

“How would I know that? I’ve never driven before.”

“But you’ve been in car before…Pay attention, the left is the gas. The right is the brake. We’re just going to go forward a little. Give it some gas. Hit the pedal.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“I’m afraid I’ll screw up.”

“You can’t hit it wrong. Just tap it.”

We lurch forward toward another car.

“Turn to the left.”

“You didn’t teach me how to yet.”

The other car keeps coming.

“Hit the brake.”

I hit the brake.


I hit it the other pedal. The car comes to a hard stop. We shoot forward. So do the fries and shakes.

We forget about teaching me to drive. We talk about what story we can tell Joe’s dad.

IMAGE: “French Fries” by Amy Amyagov, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kate Hodges is a former middle school science teacher studying for her Master’s Degree in the UK. She’s originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (where there is an excellent public transit system). Her favorite books are For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Separate Peace. She loves ambiguous endings, Hershey Bars, and the sound of seagulls.

PHOTO: A recent photo of the author on the train. (She never did learn to drive.)


Third Time’s a Clutch
by Kitty Bowerman

Three men have tried to teach me how to drive stick shift, but only one bordered on success. The order and timing of driving movements were (and still are) hopelessly foreign to me.

The first teacher was my father, whose hope for me to drive a stick faded as quickly as his hope that I could throw a proper curveball. He eventually quit, probably to salvage the transmission of his 1972 Volvo hatchback. My mother said it was important for me to learn, but I think she only wanted me to destroy that old car once and for all.

The second was a high school boyfriend, who adored me more than his Mitsubishi Montero of indeterminate age. I would make it lurch and crawl and eventually stall in empty parking lots all over town. He too quit his endeavor and was content to gaze into my young brown eyes. Since his parents were divorced, my mother distrusted him and declared that it was no longer important for me to learn.

The third and final effort came from my husband in 2001. He insisted I learn to drive his Honda Prelude, in case of an emergency. My mother agreed, reasoning that if I couldn’t drive him to the hospital and he died, his mother would always hate me.

When I was finally road-ready, I drove exactly one mile until I stalled at the entrance of our neighborhood. I yanked the parking brake triumphantly and walked home! Years later, we vacationed in Italy and rented a manual transmission car called a Lancia. He never asked me to drive on Italy’s hectic, hilly roads, but I like to think that if he needed to go to the hospital, I could.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is exactly what my father’s 1972 Volvo looked like, although this one belongs to someone else. We called it “Old Blue.” It was the first car I learned stick from.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My memories are my stories. Without them, I’d have shamefully little to write.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kitty Bowerman lives in California and is a member of the Third Street Writers in Laguna Beach. Her most recent essay appears in the anthology A Galaxy Far Far Away by Golden Fleece Press.

Road Hazard
by Mary McCarthy

The trouble with driving
was I didn’t want to learn.
I never believed
the car was innocent of guile
never trusted it to do
just what I directed
without some unexpected
deviation of its own.
My driving was a tense
between mind and matter
between my will
and the car’s inert
mechanical resistance.
This led to much anxiety
increasing exponentially
as speed and traffic grew,
resolving only
at the end of each excursion
with a full stop
releasing me mercifully
back to the safe simplicity
of moving on my feet..

Although the years
have built assurance
and left my far too frequent
accidents behind
I still have dreams
where brakes won’t work
out of sheer perversity
teasing me to panic
at each just missed
underlining my conviction
control is an illusion
meant for fools and children
easily disproven
by even one bad spin-out
into the air
from a black-iced road

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: One of my early Driver’s Licenses.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I learned to drive late, and didn’t actually drive much until after I was married, in my early thirties. I was always, at best, ill at ease behind the wheel, and, at worst, prone to panic. High speeds and heavy traffic triggered a kind of PTSD, making my driving even more erratic. I had a lot of accidents, and they got worse under winter’s icy road conditions. The most spectacular occurred the day the shuttle blew up. I went airborne in a van off an icy road, rolled twice, and landed in a creek. Miraculously, even though I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, I suffered no more than a few bruises. And even worse fear of driving. At one point my auto insurance company sent me a letter “imploring” me to be more careful. It was the one and only time I’d ever been “implored”–!!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy has always been a writer but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. She has had work included in many online and print journals, including Gnarled Oak, Expound, Earth’s Daughters, and Third Wednesday. She currently enjoys the vibrant communities of poets and writers active on the Internet.

My very first time
by Rose Mary Boehm

I don’t remember your name
but I still think of that dirt road.
When you said, Want to try?
there was magic in the air.
You had an Opel something.
White and blue.
Gear shifts by the side
of the steering wheel.

I slipped into the driver’s seat.
Warm leather.
Thought of my ignorance.
The shame of it.
What lack of sophistication.
What do I do next?
How does it work?

You explained the mechanics.
Took my hand
and folded it around that thin
gear stick. Kept your hand
on mine while we went through
the motions. ONE left and up,
TWO left and down, THREE right
and up, and then there
was FOUR. Oh, yes, not to forget
REVERSE. A bit of a wriggle.

Turn the key, foot on the
accelerator, s-l-o-w-l-y…
Engage first gear. Yes, remember,
left and up?
And the earth moved.

PHOTO: Opel from 1959.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For many more years, after I had my driver’s license, driving gave me a never-again achieved sense of total freedom. I suppose I share that sensation with all young people of our times all over the world.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A German-born U.K. national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of two novels and a full-length poetry collection (TANGENTS) published in 2011 in the U.K., her work has been widely published in U.S. poetry reviews as well as some print anthologies. One of her poems was chosen for Diane Lockward’s The Crafty Poet. She won third prize in the 2009 Margaret Reid Poetry Contest for Traditional Verse’ (US), was semi-finalist in the Naugatuck Poetry Contest 2012/13, and has been a finalist in several Goodreads poetry contests, winning it twice: in October 2014 and January 2016; a new poetry collection is earmarked for U.S. publication in 2016.