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Mark Thalman

Pavement a dull sheen
from an early evening shower,
I’ve got the radio turned up—
singing harmony on Good Vibrations,
when a car pulls out and stops
broadside in my lane. 
I stomp the brake, jerk the wheel—
My Chevy Biscayne hydroplanes,
spinning as if on an axis,
a miniature planet. 
Twisting the wheel back, I continue
in a straight line, bracing myself—
ready to crash into the man staring at me
like he’s just seen a marvelous circus trick.
In the last thousandth of a second,
he gives it gas, and moving out of the way
in the flash of a matador’s cape,
the road opens miraculously,
a river of painted stripes,
while dashboard lights glow
low as votive candles,
and the engine hums like a choir.
I come up slow on a red light,
and no longer know my hands
trembling drunk on adrenaline.
It all floods back, the surge
of helplessness,
waiting for impact,
crush of metal, splintering glass—
once again, I am living
the illusion of being safe,
while this planet whirls through space,
me holding tight to the wheel,
steering as if convinced
I have control of my life.

This poem first appeared in The MacGuffin.
Used here with the author’s permission.   



Mark Thalman, editor of and author of Catching the Limit (Fairweather Books), has been widely published for four decades. He received his MFA from the University of Oregon, and has been teaching English in the public schools for 32 years. Mark, also an artist who enjoys painting wildlife scenes with acrylics, lives in Forest Grove, OregonLearn more about him at To purchase Catching the Limit, click on the book cover and contact Mark via his email address.




Post New Comment:
Yes, good account of close call. I think the poem ends at "trembling drunk on adrenaline."
Posted 08/01/2015 10:22 PM
What a surge-scary! Thanks for the poem.
Posted 08/01/2015 06:35 PM
I can see it all. Thanks for the poem!
Posted 08/01/2015 05:10 PM
Thanks, Mark. A frightening way to be reminded that we have no control. Good poem.
Posted 08/01/2015 02:35 PM
-as if....yes, I liked it.
Posted 08/01/2015 02:12 PM
Yes! Anything that makes us realize we have NO control! Well done.
Posted 08/01/2015 08:15 AM
Larry Schug:
Excellent job of poetically portraying the situation. I felt like I was in the car and I'm a little shaky after reading it.
Posted 08/01/2015 07:52 AM

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