Archives for posts with tag: driving

Driving Lessons
by Laura Winkelspecht

to shift
first through
fourth then
one foot
off gas
one foot
on clutch
start and
stop and
clutch and
shift and
clutch and
gas and
clutch and
shift and
gas and
go and
shift and
gears turn:
the wheel
of an
old brown

IMAGE: Ad for 1972 Ford Pinto.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I learned how to drive a manual transmission in a Pinto station wagon while driving from Wisconsin to Texas with my new husband. With this poem, I used two syllable lines to imitate the short, jerky movement of someone learning how to drive a manual transmission for the first time.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Winkelspecht writes with the hope of finding some lightning among the lightning bugs. Her work has been featured in NEAT, Clementine Poetry Review, American Tanka, and she is a contributor to the Wisconsin Poet’s Calendar.

Driving haiku
by Kelley White

White knuckled, Mother
grips the door handle—teaching
me, sixteen, to drive.

SOURCE: This poem in a slightly different form first appeared at in 2012.

PHOTO: “Sandy road” by alleks, used by permission (text added).


Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural
 New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals, including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books). She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.

deer crossing
Rules of the Road
by N. Hess

It’s dark out.

It might rain.

There are deer on the road.

Every time I sat in the driver’s seat, my mother’s voice echoed in my brain. Each time I clicked the seat belt shut, her old litany of excuses snapped in place, too. Reasons why it wouldn’t be safe for me to drive. Good heavens, there are deer on that road! (Which would never just cause a dent in the car—always imminent death, of course.)

Welcome to Pennsylvania, where there are deer everywhere, every night. Yet most people go about their business, perhaps driving a little more cautiously in areas where deer are known to congregate, but driving nonetheless.

But not me. I stayed “safe” by not driving. Or if I really had to go somewhere, my mother drove me. (Clearly, she was the magical accident repellent that would keep me unharmed.)

I didn’t know then that it wasn’t about safety or my driving skills—it was about control. All I knew was that in high school and college, I was allowed to drive a grand total of 11 times. When I moved away after graduation, I was equal parts longing and terrified to drive myself anywhere.

Driving to the grocery store in my new town, I had to give myself pep talks. Talk myself out of thinking I was going to die every time I drove somewhere. Remind myself that if I could just get to the supermarket, I’d be rewarded with mac and cheese.

Those two miles each way to the store felt like an eternity for over a year. But each journey yielded two miles’ more experience than before. It adds up over time, and it gave me a voice. A voice that’s louder than hers.

To this day, I’ve never hit a deer.

PHOTO: “Deer crossing” by adrenalinpura, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Stephen King once said, “The only requirement [to be a writer]…is the ability to remember every scar.” My driving-related scars inspired this story. Although those wounds don’t cut as deeply these days, they still produce little twinges and pinches sometimes when I’m stuck in a traffic jam or driving down a lonely road at night. I keep telling myself that’s what healing feels like.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: N. Hess writes twisted fiction. She lurks in the Philadelphia suburbs and is inspired by all things dark and mysterious.

AUTHOR PHOTO: N. Hess, daydreaming about a future in which self-driving cars will be the norm.

chrysler newport

Scooping the Loop
by Nancy A. Nichols

In my hometown of Waukegan, Illinois we scooped the loop every Saturday night—a kind of hypnotic dance where we drove in endless circles around town stopping only to go to the bathroom at Taco Bell.

Back then I drove an old Chrysler Newport sedan. It was two-toned gold and brown with a tan interior. It was beige in both color and affect.

On my first solo drive, I got in and pulled the door shut. It made a kind of clunking sound. I put the car in reverse. It made a popping sound like the joints of an old man.

I backed out of the driveway and onto the road and gave the gas pedal a little push. I felt the car accelerate up a small hill and felt a rush of freedom and power.

I shuddered a little and turned left at the light. Like generations of women before me, I was headed into town in search of a soda and a good book.

PHOTO: 1970 Chrysler Newport

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am the daughter of a used car salesman and a former journalist with The Harvard Business Review. I am at work on a book about women and cars and trying to understand the pervasive power of the automobile on all facets of American life—but particularly its effects on women’s lives. When I saw this writing prompt, I couldn’t resist.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR Nancy A. Nichols is the founder of The Great Ideas Studio and the author of Lake Effect: Two Sister’s and a Town’s Toxic Legacy. She is currently at work on a book about women and cars.

The Crossroads. Country crossroads shrouded in with stop sign silhouette shrouded in fog.
Something in my way
by Sofia Kioroglou

I see an obstacle
always a roadblock
in my dreams and when awake

I see this road sign
always the stop sign.
I thought third time is the charm.

PHOTO: “Crossroads” by ehrif, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem after failing my third driving test. I was crushed when I failed it the first time but had thought I would pass it the second time. Third time is the charm did not work for me, though. I have given up the whole thing and see myself more suited to being a back seat driver.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sofia Kioroglou is a poet, writer and prolific blogger residing in Athens, Greece, with her husband Peter. She remembers herself born with a quill in her hand writing poems and painting beautiful pictures. Her recent work “Guns and bullets” is included in a the Poetry Against Terror Anthology  and her poems have appeared in Verse-Virtual, Writink Page, Silver Birch Press, Poet’s Corner, and Bonsaistories among others. Last July, her poem “You won’t come” was singled out in the 4th Ceasar Dapontes Poetry Competition, winning a commendation award, and her haiku “Beyond this life” appears in the Haiku Anthology of Spiritual Horizons in Cyprus.  To learn more about her work, visit

AUTHOR PHOTO: The author at the Athens Film Festival (2014).

Driving school driver woman car
In My Car I’m a Star
by Yvonne Connor

In my car I’m a star
I’m a road star driver
I’m a gold star rider

when I first learned to drive
I thought I’d best get it right
so I hired for an hour
this European guy
he was a driving instructor
with a roving eye
each week he would come
and pick me up
we’d start at my place
and I’d try not to race
he’d show me when
to make a left turn
park on a dime
and drive a straight line
he’d drive me home after
to set the next date
and all of the while
his hand on my leg
I thought it was
his European way
so I let him do it, anyway …

I’m a gold star rider
in my car I’m a star
I’m a gold star driver
flyin’ under the radar

I get from place to place
and yeah sometimes I race
no question there
I’m driving now without a care

‘Cause I’m a gold star rider
in my car I’m a star
I’m a road star driver
In my car I’m a star

IMAGE: “Driving Instructor” by studiostoks, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I learned to drive 20 years ago with an instructor who was questionable.

yvonne connor

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Yvonne Connor resides in Vancouver, BC, Canada.  After a recent event in January this year, Yvonne was inspired to write about her life experiences. She writes while listening to her favorite music.

aged and worn vintage photo of drive theater and cars sign with pointing hand

Did You Ever Drive?
by Diana Rosen

It began normally enough: a licensed driving school teacher, a car with steering wheels on both the driver’s and the passenger’s side, and learning the basics, which I practiced and practiced and practiced.

A challenge: an excursion! A drive to Julian, a tiny mountaintop town about an hour away from where I lived in Phoenix.

Oblivious to the perilous route up a winding road straight out of a Road Runner cartoon, we zipped along until we reached the top. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the teacher gripping his wheel saying with insistent steel, “I’ll drive us back down.”

He seemed a little pale.

He let me drive the mercifully wide, six-lane Phoenix roads all the way back. I was so proud.

After another month of lessons, the teacher said, “Let’s go to the DMV.”

The official tester, clipboard in hand, got in the car and I drove between the two white lines, parallel parked, turned left, turned right, checked side mirrors, rear view mirror. The tester made marks on the clipboard, and said, “You passed.”

Beaming, I told the teacher, “I passed!”

He looked a little stunned. “You did?”

That did not inspire confidence, but I had my first state-allowed license to drive.

I drove a few friends to the drive-in who thought my carefulness hysterically funny. They laughed. They giggled. They disrupted my concentration so that, after the movie, I bumped the car to the right, nudged the car to the rear, then, while driving into the exit lane, a man jumped out of his car and stood at the trunk, shouting, “Not mine, lady! Not mine!” as we drove off the lot. None of them, including me, noticed the speaker was still attached to my window.

I no longer drive.

PHOTO: “Drive in” by jdoms, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My storytelling process, which is how I perceive prose and poems I write, owes much to a journalism background in which one aim is to include the 5Ws and H (who, where, when, what, why and how) and a dedication to facts. The challenge, eternal, is to make the leap, to choose words with a spirit of abandon and wit so that, at rare but thrilling times, the reader can connect.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Diana Rosen is a journalist, author of 13 nonfiction books, and published writer of poems and flash fiction online at,,,, among others; and, in print, in the anthologies: Kiss Me Goodnight, Stories and Poems by Women Who Were Girls When Their Mothers Died, Bold Ink, and Those who can…teach, and in print journals: Rattle, PDQ, convolvulus, Lucidity, Lunch Hour Stories (Finalist, VERY Short Story Contest), among others. Poems will be published in April and November issues of Poetic Diversity.

miniature red toy car in accident on white background
My First Car
by Steve Nash

It tasted sour, warm blood crept from my nose,
and as I lolled it around my tongue it throbbed
outwards like gelatine, until my mouth was clogged;
too full to cry out toward my house should the blood
unburden itself of my body for good.
I’d lifted the wheeled, plastic gift
in those too-thin arms down the porch stairs.
Cheeks hot with guilt, feet naked as newborns
to muffle each siren scream of the steps.
Chest tight from the cobwebs frost’s spiders
always weaved in my lungs, what valuable
breath they let leak unfurled into dancing silverfish.
Nothing prepared for the breathless crush
once I’d pushed off from the crest.
Earth rushed past until my first car
betrayed our tryst.
My lips returned the concrete’s kiss,
I haven’t driven since.

IMAGE: “Miniature car accident” by ratana k, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is based on a true story from when I was about five years old. It turns out that children’s push-along cars, and steep hill do not make as fun bedfellows as they may seem. On the plus side, Steve’s face makes a pretty useful emergency brake.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Nash is a writer, lecturer, and terrible musician based in Yorkshire, UK. He is a Saboteur Award winner for Best Spoken Word Performer, and his first collection, Taking the Long Way Home, is available from Stairwell Books. Steve will work for Guinness and Scotch eggs, and suspects his guinea pigs are plotting against him.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Taken by Oz Hardwick at the Word on the Street event at the Morley Literature Festival — this was my first public appearance after recovering from a near-fatal car crash on Skull and Crossbones Bridge in Chesterfield.

The Driving Instructor
by Lynn White

I needed rather a lot of driving lessons.
My lack of a sense of direction didn’t help.
Nor, did my occasional confusion
between right and left.
But, coming up to my test,
my new instructor was sympathetic.
We could go for a Sunday drive, he said.
I could have a free lesson
and maybe a drink after.
Well, why not?
He told me a story over the drink.
He’d been in the war in Singapore.
Such horror.
And conscripts all.
In the chaos
an enemy soldier had shot his dog.
Shot her.
Killed her,
Such horror.
And conscripts all.
But, it was alright in the end,
he’d “got” the one who did it.
“Got him.”
Shot him!
Killed him,
Such horror.
And conscripts all.
The life of a man for the life of a dog.
Both shot.
Both killed.
Both dead.
It was the life of the man I valued most.
And I said so
using a lot of words.
Yes, rather a lot of words
loudly spoken.
So no more free lessons,
but I passed my test.

PHOTO : The author with her flatmate around the time she took driving lessons.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places, and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy, and reality. Her poem “A Rose For Gaza” was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud “War Poetry for Today” competition 2014 and has since been published in several journals and anthologies. Poems have also recently been included in anthologies, including Harbinger Asylum’s To Hold a Moment Still, Stacey Savage’s We Are Poetry: An Anthology of Love Poems, Community Arts Ink’s Reclaiming Our Voices, Vagabond Press’s The Border Crossed Us, Civilised Beasts from Weasel Press, Alice in Wonderland Anthology from Silver Birch Press, and a number of rather excellent online and print journals. Visit her on facebook and at

Opposite arrows with Left versus Right

First Gear Dilemmas
by Jessica Patient

Hugging the L-plates as we sat on an empty road, in the business park. Grey Lego-shaped buildings surrounded us. The rusty regal-blue Renault Megane chugged and rattled into life, spitting and choking out black smoke. At the time the leaking water pump was only a dribble not a gush.

Clutch down, foot trembling as I shoved the gearbox into first. You used to joke about the gearbox being stiff and at this rate I was going to end up with one lean arm and a beefed-up, toned arm. Learning to drive seemed even more undesirable. Hand gripping the handbrake, waiting for the car to feel the need to take off. Must. Not. Stall. The. Car.

“Indicate right,” you said.

The whole concept of left and right vanished from my head. I was going to have to use my old trick of writing “L” and “R” on my hands. But no pen — I was going to have to freestyle. Pulling down the indicator, the “right” arrow blinked on the dashboard. My little head did the “mirror-check dance” and I pulled away.

Changing to second gear as the car bumped and hopped. Twenty miles an hour felt fast, especially when a hulk-like lorry approached, swaying in the wind. My sweaty palms slipped around the steering wheel.

“I can’t squeeze between the lorry and the curb.”

“There’s plenty of space.”

I hunched my shoulders as the lorry drove past.

The car rocked.

“You’re on the verge.”

I closed my eyes. Only for a second.

A grinding noise of metal meeting concrete.

A clunk. We both looked at each other, and shrugged. Glancing up at the rear view mirror and there it was one, perched on the curb — the exhaust.

Finally, I was free to be a pedestrian again.

IMAGE: “Left versus right” by stanciuc, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece started out much longer than intended and has expanded and shrunk on many occasions, as if it were on a quick-fix diet followed by binging. I only applied for my provisional driving licence because I have a baby face and was always getting ID for buying paracetamol but now several years down the line I own a Mini.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Patient is sometimes a writer, reviewer, blogger. Sometimes in that order. Jessica lives in Bedfordshire, UK. Visit her at

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Taken at the London Transport Museum, 2016. Imagine parallel parking a double decker!