? SLAB | Sound & Literary Art Book

Issue 11


Erin Redfern

Found Poem II

—-The Feel of the Road (1963)

1. Necessary Precautions

First, make sure the car can’t start rolling
by itself. It might, you know,
if parked on the slight slope
of a driveway or graded street.

Having secured your steed
against running away,
it’s time to “mount.”
Now you’re in the driver’s seat.
Great feeling, isn’t it? But

if you sit in the car alone
for this exploratory lesson,
better leave the ignition key at home.
The powerful murmur
and pulsation of the engine
would be too exciting right now.


2. Let’s Be Realistic

Without you, the machine is
blundering, mindless, aimless,
and never knows when to stop.
With you, it’s marvelously strong
and swiftly responsive.

And yet to look at things as a driver
means acquiring a new set of habits.

The girl driver in Chapter 1, 

who hit the pole during her road test,
might have been so happy to see her boyfriend
that she unconsciously aimed the car
straight for him! Her “psychological set”
was fine for romance,
but a bit impractical for driving.

3. The Feel of the Road

An experienced driver will slip into his seat
and get the car under way
so swiftly that, watching him, you imagine
there’s nothing to it. The beginner

owes it to himself to master the routine
before he starts grabbing knobs and handles.
He’s in somewhat the same position
as the awkward boy who took a shy girl
on their first date. He didn’t know
whether to drape his arm around her shoulders or
around her waist.

He never did get to kiss her.