Thursday, April 20, 2017

Non-Drivers and Nina Simone...A Tale of Two Contests

Tonight Catfish McDaris enters the non-driving contest with three poems.  The first is set in Clovis, New Mexico.

The Shoe Leather Express

Nobody walked in my hometown,
Clovis, New Mexico, cars were for
making love and getting wasted in or
seeing what was over the next horizon

At 14, I bought a 57 Chevy station wagon,
I tricked it out with curtains and funky
carpeting, it cost $175, I couldn’t get my
license until I was 15, so I parked a few

Blocks from school, driving down Main
a few months after I got my license, a lady
rear ended me, I let her give me a ride all
summer and I used the shoe leather express.

An Oklahoma Credit Card

My second car was a 55 Chevy, 4 door,
it had some power, I traded it for a grape
Ford, I put a tequila bottle under the hood
where the windshield washer was located

I had the new hose emerge in the glovebox,
you pressed a button and got a shot of cacti,
I had a Mercury, Buick, and Pontiac and
learned how to work on all of them

Buying gasoline was usually a problem, I
became skillful with a siphoning hose, also
known as an Oklahoma credit card, I’d like
to repay all the people I stole gas from

I no longer drive, I take the bus or walk,
Karma came late to me, taking away my
driving privileges, my lady drives me mostly,

in case of emergency I can drive anything.

Photo by Daniel Hu

Bus Stop Blues

Blowing cold breath cloud rings
waiting on the 18 to head east
toward Lake Michigan, it was
brisk and frisky, in front of Taco

Bell and a gas station, I spoke
Spanish to myself to try and think
of a distraction from the cold,
the silence was welcome, I knew

I’d be in noise for the rest of the day,
a loud car with no muffler slowed
down, a kid yelled something, I just
smiled, he circled the block

“Hey old man, if you weren’t so poor,
you wouldn’t be riding the bus,” I thought
maybe he’s right, the bus drove by his
car in flames, I waved with one finger.

Artwork by Compose4U/JK Zeewolde

Having entered the non-driving contest, Bill Cushing is entering...or re-entering  the contest for poems and prose inspired by jazz musicians born in the 1930s.  


Transforming us with blues, boogie-woogie,
using training in classics to quash rage,         
she dug into our souls, tore open hearts, exposed our psyche.
Before King’s dream, she mounted battles onstage
from Harlem to Carnegie, leaving beloved Bach behind,
she battered walls of injustice, rattled abusers’ cages, yet
allowed herself to be battered, her sanity strewn.
Nina, a Harlem Renaissance soul out of time,
whose good intentions drown in madness and regret,
infused righteous power into every tune.

I'd also like to add one of my non-driving poems.  Of course, most of my poems fit into that category (although not all do).

Once She Was a Subway Flyer*

when Addison Road was the end of the line.
Beyond here there were only buses
the C29 down the highway
past strip malls, past farm stands,
past the DMV and the gas station,
to the front door of the college.

Then she was a moon-faced girl
in black among the masked faces,
her students coming from work,
the stout security guards,
and the boys to men
with blank white shirts
and shorts past their knees.

 That was nearly ten years ago.
She looks like her mother now,
tightening a gunmetal belt
over a navy cardigan.
She walks to work.

Someday she might come back
to see what this place has become:
the new town center, the stores,
the station
a village green with 
Kenny the mayor on Foursquare,
Addison Road,
no longer the end of the line.
·         A “freeway flyer” is a name for an adjunct instructor who teaches at more than one college.  A “subway flyer” would be one who, without a car, commutes via public transportation.

Let's add some music, starting with Nina Simone.

Here is her song "Go to Hell" from 1969:

I will add "Mississippi Goddamn":

I'll finish with a couple more songs.  The first is "Ain't Got No, I Got Life":

I saw that she has covered "To Love Somebody," a song that Janis Joplin covered as well, so I'm posting it:


  1. These are well-written ,delightful and humorous poems. To be more precise,"The Shoe Leather Express" gave me a laugh-out-loud moment.

  2. These are fine works, M! ID learned two new slang terms tonight. The irony in the third poem is priceless.

  3. Hahaha...I thought you'd like that third poem!

  4. Fine poems, as always congratulations! please could you let me know more about the contests /dead lines etc,love and light,angelee