Poetry

Thoughts on Being Carless

by Michael Raffaele

I got rid of my car a year ago.
The circumstances of why are not important.
What is important are the things I’ve seen and learned walking around.

 

One time on a midnight highway bus I stared at this one cloud that looked like one of those skydivers jumping from a plane called the moon-
Realizing that if I had a car I wouldn’t have such time to stare into clouds jumping to their deaths from the sky that will never let them die because it will never let them go with its velcro oxygen.

One time I was riding in a cab and the driver said that I reminded him of his son-
And then he said he hadn’t seen his son in many years-
And I couldn’t say anything back as I stared out into the drunken lights and sobering sidewalks of police arresting the public disturbance of night- and thought about how I hadn’t seen my own father in a long time- and how fathers and sons can find each other in far away places even when they themselves aren’t in those places that are far away.
I thought about how some fathers could never take their sons home-
For whatever reason the world held or still holds-
So they drive around picking up the sons of other fathers
Attempting to redeem themselves by helping others find home so they can find heaven.

Another time I was walking along and thought about how legs are the piano keys of the street-
And it made me smile that I could find melody in a place with no seeming melody whatsoever.

This one night in particular-
I found myself twenty miles outside of downtown-
Walking along the thruway at eleven c’ clock looking for the a bus stop-
I was the only one on the streets and there were cars everywhere-
And after a while the sidewalk ended and I came upon the intersection of different thruways- and I had to walk under this bridge and a car nearly hit me and everybody was honking their horns and flashing their lights at me- and I put my hood way down over my eyes hoping that nobody recognized me putting my life in danger too proud to admit I couldn’t find a bus stop-
That night I learned what the prostitutes and the homeless and how all those kinds of people that we classify as those kinds of people could possibly feel-
I observed that the pain of being in the spotlight is the same pain as being poor-
And later on when I got home and turned on the television I shook my head over people doing all they can to be noticed and pretty and noticed enough to the point of being pretty famous.


One time I walked alongside this stream that runs through downtown-
Thinking about how it doesn’t contain any fish and how perhaps all the fish moved elsewhere in search of food and fish mates and more affordable auto finance.
Another time I was riding a bus in the middle of a hot day in July-
And everybody was wearing cutoff sleeves and sweat stains and humility-
And the seats were all packed and I was sitting next to a black woman whose arm was touching mine and she had this skin that was so smooth beneath the perspiration-
And I thought about all the heartache and cheating and stealing I’d been through
As the bus ride shook and reminded me that some women are still make of human silk.

Then this other night I was walking home drunk and I stopped under an American flag posted atop the public library- and I went back and forth between its stitching and the sky- and thought about the real stars as I read intoxicated the scenery of humans appropriating the real world with their astrology and attached sense of awe to create symbolism for their own world and be in awe of themselves as they stitch themselves their own stars-

That same night I got home and sat in my window on the 8th floor and starred out over all the traffic and continued my thoughts on traveling and stars-
And how all the automobiles down there below looked like ants carrying food and dui tickets and prey and their microscopic ant futures into beds of giant buildings dodging the crashing weight of angel feet known as shooting stars.

And just the other night I was talking to my mom-
Telling her how difficult it is to date and exist and describe my own life to others without having a car-
And she told me how her parents shared a car and took turns walking or taking public transportation-
And I laid in bed that night thinking about how that was only 40 or so years ago and how premature America has evolved-
How we all became so accustomed in a mere lifetime of mothers.

 

After a year or so of being carless I don’t have too many negative thoughts.
I get to walk by stop signs knowing they longer apply to me- even if I am moving at a much slower pace than I used to- at least I have one more something I don’t have to obey.

I get to have one less thing to lose in a world that wants to take everything you have.

I haven’t spoken to an insurance agent in over a year and feel like I hope a revolution would feel.

I’ve learned to appreciate the inches of life that are oftentimes the years themselves.

 

I guess the only substantial thing I don’t like about not having a car is the way people make me feel when I tell them a car is something I don’t have-
And then they ask me stupid questions about not having a car-
Questions like Then how do you get anywhere? and Doesn’t that suck? and How are you getting home?
And I’m forced to give sarcastic answers because sometimes sarcasm is the only way stupidity can survive in the air-
And I answer Those giant things you see called busses- they carry people around- I am among them and Actually it doesn’t suck as much as talking to morons standing in front of you and The way I got here- oh shit- spontaneous combustion doesn’t run this late at night I guess I’ll be cabbing it thank you for bringing that to my attention no idea what I would‘ve done you should be a travel agent.

I don’t like the fact that such sarcasm is really the only way I can deal with people when they engage in conversation with me regarding the car situation-
Because I know their mind is already made up that I must be a loser or a financial nightmare or a traffic offender and that’s fine because all those things are true-
But they wouldn’t listen to me when I say that 99 percent of America is full of financial nightmares and human traffic offenders and people who end up losers in the end-
That a car is one more item that itemizes our lives-
The denial is America’s most dangerous drug-
That the world is only overcrowded because all of us demand so much damn personal space-

And in exchange they would argue that without cars millions of people wouldn’t have jobs or places to go-
And I would argue back that without jobs millions of people would still have dreams serving as transportation-
And the bantering would go back and forth between liberal and conservative and out there and in there and nothing would get accomplished- and they’d end up being correct because there are more of them and in America it’s the numbers that only seem to matter.

I hate walking from place to place though circumstances-

Thinking about how everybody says you should live the way you want to live
But then give you this awkward look when you don’t live the way they live-
How everybody’s desire to improve the world and represent and relate to the world has gotten so lazy and off topic and unoriginal and cliché and meaningless-

Thinking about the Gulf of Mexico and the oil spill and everybody bitching about petroleum companies digging offshore- before climbing into their gas guzzlers and driving around with their biodegradable coffee cups and peace stickers in their windows identifying themselves as earth children as they unknowingly create the market for oil spills- and then I’m the loser cause I’m carless and seemingly disconnected even though I’m walking straight through all the problems slowly and surely and putting together stanzas of poetry and explanations for my morale that forces itself to process everything in metaphor in order to make it to wherever-

Thinking about how the world is trying to produce more and more of everything and then complains that everything is worth less and less- and at the same time wants more people to buy things but wants less people to make money- and how it’s all one big schizophrenic experiment with time.

I hate not having a car because it has left me a more intelligent being in so many ways-
Even though I know that in the end that’s a good thing-
And it drives me crazy.


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