by Scott Wordsman

A red Honda Civic is straddling the bisecting line

of highway forty-six west, swerving over the teeth

of the road’s white zipper. The sky is bright

this morning but no driver with a proper pair


of shades or a sun visor should have a problem

staying in just one lane. You are late to work

but would rather apologize for it later than have

your wing mirror clipped off by this swaying sedan.


While you are not a person swayed by stereotypes,

you need to know the demographic of the driver;

sometimes it is reassuring to see if your assumptions

are correct. As you prepare for this pursuit, a cobalt


Camry appears on your right. You try to meet eyes

with its driver, as if to say, What the hell is going on

up there, but she is a beast of a woman looking straight

into the feedbag on her lap and it makes you want


to cry but you sit up straight and bash your fist

against the horn as if one strident sound could shake

the planet into consciousness, but it can’t and nothing

changes. You begin to see the Civic as a rival


from your past, the taunting you recall turns to hatred

and seeps into your spit, when you bite down on your lip

the blood you breathe mixes with the gum you are chewing

and where are the police to pull these lunatics over?


Your armpits have fused with your sleeves and sweat

has stained the air, you roll down the window to a road

that smells like piss and rain, this spring has been warm

and awful, your daughter is fifteen and thinks


you are coming on to her when suggesting going out

for ice cream alone as you can’t stand the thought

of your wife beating you over the brain for choosing

a large cone over a small cup because what other


indulgences do you have left to own? You decide

to pass the Civic on the shoulder. Who would receive

a ticket first, you think, then ask, Can cops multitask

like that? So as you lay on the gas you catch a glimpse
of her there, the bob of brownish hair, some frays

of pink near the ends, a teenaged mess and you do not

understand why she is screaming nor who her sentiments

are geared toward but as you neck yourself nearer


you notice her phone propped up on the dash and how

she is a violent cryer, a cockpit sobber, with one hand

to her temple, the other flimsy, fingering the wheel.

You want to strangle her and you want to swaddle



and assure her that no matter who is on the other end

he is not worth dying for on a Tuesday morning

between Bloomfield and Paterson. Yet from watching

this display, you begin to taste the tang of jealousy


swirling inside your head, for you have never been

as intoxicated by someone’s words as she, so much so

that you would risk it all, especially before lunch;

and while you recognize this selfish sense of the world


to be characteristic of her age, you know you would trade

your summer months and pension to be that foolish again,

to crash your car for anyone who could rescue you from

your insignificance, even for a minute, but the notion
slips as you speed by her on the left to where you keep

on driving till you notice that her car has disappeared

down an exit and you do not think of her again until

three years later when your daughter dyes her hair
pink one evening and you eat just as much dessert

as you would and start to wonder if anything else

will feel the same, but it ends there. In any event,

you’re not the type of person to lose sleep over these things.


Scott Wordsman is an MFA candidate at William Paterson University. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Puritan, Slipstream Press, The Main Street Rag, and others. He lives in New Jersey.