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Off-Roading on the Tundra
J. C. Elkin


Hurtling down the Stampede Trail
like Alexander Super Tramp

Into the Wild she bucks like a teen
with a laminate-warm license.

Engine cranking, springs crunching,
over The Toppler she teeters
like a sloop close-hauled in a gale
alert for lynx round every bend.

Tires slipping, chassis tipping,
through door-skimming wallows she plows
into turns as she learned long ago.
Steer into the skid and don’t brake!

She’s fearless. In forty years at the wheel
navigating all the Big Ds
Destitution, Divorce, Depression, Downsizing,
she steered into the skid, never braking.

How could she have known at age sixteen
Drivers’ Ed would prepare her for life?

This poem first appeared in the Learning to Drive Poetry & Prose Series (Silver Birch Press, 2016).
Used here with the author’s permission.


J.C. Elkin describes herself as "an optimist, linguist, and singer with a mammoth memory for minutiae." Her collection, World Class: Poems Inspired by the ESL Classroom (Apprentice House 2014), is based on her experiences teaching English to adult immigrants. Other poetry and prose draws heavily on spirituality, feminism, travel, and childhood. J.C. lives in Annapolis, Maryland; learn more about her at


Post New Comment:
What fun reading this poem...Allegra
Posted 06/22/2016 01:03 PM
Very good pace to the poem, it has a strong sense of speed, so well done you! it also made me smile - thank you
Posted 06/22/2016 12:28 PM
Jean Colonomos-1:
Jean Colonomos Love the metaphor and how you surprise us with it towards the end of the poem. Skillful!
Posted 06/22/2016 11:05 AM
Lori Levy:
Love the momentum in this poem and how it carries me to the last 2 unexpected stanzas.
Posted 06/22/2016 09:34 AM
Great fun!
Posted 06/22/2016 08:39 AM
What a metaphor. Yes ma'm. You have nailed this. All I have to do is substitute Death for Divorce and it's me. Thanks! I love it.
Posted 06/22/2016 07:28 AM
Unprepared for the last two lines. Saved the very best best for last! Great poem. Thanks, J.C.
Posted 06/22/2016 07:03 AM

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