We’re swirling leaves carried on the flow,
pebbles skimmed across the waves,
seabirds too ungainly to reach the sky.
We only touch time’s surface,
and never understand its depths.
On Friday, she knocked softly at the door.
She was elderly and frail, and she
held a schoolbook out to me.
“We must have speed bumps
on Lynwood Street. They drive
too fast. There’s going to be
an accident, and someone’s
going to die.”
She opened her homework,
a painstaking paragraph,
with t’s out of focus.
It was her petition to the council.
I added my signature,
and wished her success.
Where is it taking them,
their high-speed driving
down Lynwood Street?
Do they know they’re riders in pale cars,
and there’s only one destination?
On Sunday, she was out with her book again,
watching her feet as she shuffled along,
to be sure they were firmly on the ground.
In a daylight dream, eighty years rewound.
I watched the autumn leaves on Lynwood Street rise upward
to the Liquid Ambers, the houses fold gently into farms.
A schoolgirl ran to catch the bus, hopped hopscotch
in the playground, laughing with her friends.
At an ink-stained desk, she dipped her pen
in the well, made sure no drips of indigo
spattered on the page, scratched out
the teacher’s letters chalked up
on the board, the alphabet
in copperplate from
A to Z.
Perhaps, even now,
she hasn’t noticed
the pale cars we ride in,
doesn’t know their destination.
Or perhaps she doesn’t care.
Why should she?
When her bony hands
still clutch tightly
to the steering wheel.
Based on real events.
Lesser Happiness, which has a tenuous connection to the poem, is a 40s video with words but no soundtrack, best viewed HD full screen. The art was evolved with the visual evolution engine (VEE), my software that seeks unexpected realms, rather than using standard AI techniques to mimic existing art. Cyclic Nonlinear Desaturation (CYNDE) was applied in the evolution.
27 thoughts on “the pale cars on Lynwood Street”
Beautifully evocative. Wonderful.
Thank you, stranger, glad you liked. Reality always comes in handy with speculative works. I had a draft and didn’t post it until now, I thought it was a bit too dark. The woman’s actions were completely pointless, yet done with such determination. This is wonderful and important in itself: to try.
I feel that ignoring the terminal implications of a time, is a more or less involuntary defense mechanism that keeps one from being overwhelmed by the limitedness of mortality.
Thank you for your thoughts, and I agree that contemplating our finiteness (in space and time) can be overwhelming, There is a lot that could be said, but I believe that if one can manage it, and come to an acceptance (in fact, an appreciation) of one’s place, there is much to gain. Buddhist practice is an example.
I’ve tried to do that, starting with triggers long ago: unsettling visions of my existence in an incomprehensible universe. The verses in the video are part of my personal answer.
I’ve personally found that an inescapable longing to return to an impossible past, can affect the mind in deeply troubling and potentially harmful ways; hence ignoring the pain caused by the terminus of lives and incomplete aspirations of some persons very dear to me – is somewhat of a forced defense mechanism by now.
The verses in the video end on a reality that is obvious. What one realizes in time, is the obvious does not necessarily mean agreeable (and concepts like karma are egregiously nonsensical).
Yes, forced has never worked for me. I have found benefit in letting it all out in meditation, and cultivating gentle mindfulness to let attachments drift past.
I’ve never been able to understand karma either, and I also have problems with (Buddhist) rebirth in our world. Whenever I ask, the answers seem vague and are hard for me to make sense of. 🤓
I do earnestly wish I could cultivate a similar gentle mindfulness that’d let me reminisce or reflect. The process, for me, now, is one of confronting an insurmountable violence that I cannot accept or come to terms with – hence, the unhealthy habit of ignoring some experience until they are more or less buried in self-imposed repression. Kinda reminds of the mad fate of the protagonist in the movie “Old Boy”, but atleast he can smile at last.
I haven’t seen the movie. I would say that even what we repress is still with us. I have tried many ways with past trauma: writing, meditation, counselling, etc, and still very much a work in progress. I try to be gentle with myself and my failures, that came from Buddhism. We’re all different, and who knows what the future holds?
Yes, it exists and is carried with one, even if one represses it. But it feels more like a dull ache instead of an endlessly iterating stabbing sensation.
I have a special interest in the elderly. I feel at home in their presence and enjoy the conversation. I recently shared the hands of my grandfather. Their state is a reflection of how determined he was to live life. Enjoyed your piece, Sir.
Thank you, Audrey. I agree, we can see the strength and achievements of those dear to us, see their shining lights. And as well, there is a lot to be learnt from such personal pasts, given the way the world is now. PS: I must admit that being addressed as “Sir” takes me back to lecturing at university. 😸
Once a lecturer always a lecturer, Sir ♡ Great work!
Been back to this a number of times, Steve, a poignant and moving poem and a change in style in some ways in that it’s centered in the very day. On the other hand it is a reflection on time which is right in your bailiwick (what an odd word).
Either way it’s a poem that sticks!
Thank you, Jim. Yes, time is always there for me, in science as well. It’s a question that still really interests me, and there is at least a finite chance that I’ll finish off Physics Without Butterflies next year. How we can understand time will definitely be a major part.
As well as being a curiosity, “bailiwick” illustrates how real the flow of time from the past to the present seems to be. Einstein said time was a “persistent illusion,” but I think that’s a major blooper, time is as real as our world.
I haven’t forgotten about the robots, the aliens, the spectres, and the rest. They’ll be back … 👽👻🤖
“Physics without Butterflies” sounds fascinating Steve! And yes time is real , it can weigh heavy, it can weigh light!
This is quite marvellous, like Jim I’ve read and re-read it. Death in a pale car……
Thank you. Possibly not an Uber ride though. I normally don’t share work like this. As I mentioned above, it’s rather dark. But as well, for me, some topics are too personal, too private.
I also have poems that are too personal to share.
Absolutely wonderful imagery, Steve, Poignant, tender and true. The title reminds me of an old film from the 50s. Not sure why but it really works. Loving this new style with a touch of magic realism.🦄
Thank you, Nikita, I really appreciate your thoughts. I played with the title, I knew it was right when I found it, and I’m not sure why either. I’m afraid there might not be much more. As I explained above, it’s partly because of me being unwilling to share, even re-inventions in poetry. But who knows? Maybe one day…
Her bony hands clutching tightly to the steering wheel… what a haunting image.
Thank you, Magarisa. I’ve seen that determination in the elderly, although not with steering wheels, and for me, it’s something to be admired: to carry on with all the strength and determination one can muster.
Poignantly sweet. ❤️
Thank you, glad you liked.
I really like this one, Steve. Perhaps it’s because I can relate to the little old lady.
Thanks Sue, me too. Those of us who reflect on our lives, I think we do. It didn’t happen when I was young, very little reflection at all. 😸