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Cruising Across the Country: Poems

July 6, 2018


“If one has driven a car over many years, as I have, nearly all reactions have become automatic.  One does not think about what to do.  Nearly all the driving technique is deeply buried in a machine-like unconscious.  This being so, a large area of the conscious mind is left free for thinking.  And what do people think of when they drive? On short trips perhaps of arrival at a destination or memory of events at the place of departure.  But there is left, particularly on very long trips, a large area for daydreaming or even, God help us, for thought.  No one can know what another does in that area.” 


         ~ John Steinbeck Travels With Charley In Search of America



Six days, nine states, over 2,500 miles.  Currently in Cleveland, Ohio, we will be making our way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this afternoon.  As I cruise across the country with my mom and pops, we’ve seen the states through Interstate 80.  Windmills in Wyoming, Books of Mormon in Utah restaurants and coffee shops, and an onslaught of rain in Ohio are only small snippets of our trip.  Crossing county and state lines, switching up speed limits, and seeing culture change as you continue to move east shows the different faces that make up the United States of America.  Below are my thoughts, collected from the road and shown through poetry.



"Pacific in the Rearview (Day 1)"



Dry Land

Long Roads

Blue Sky

Temperature High


Mind runs

Mouth silent

Wet eyes

Heavy heart




"An Afternoon in Iowa"


In the heart of the country

Country music was all that was on the radio

And the wheat and corn danced to the rhythm

Rolling with the wind

Swooshing to the sweet sound

That Mother Nature served up


And I couldn’t help but smile



"Escaping the Storm"


Sky showed possible rain

It felt sticky as we rolled through

the land of Cornhuskers


When one doesn't see anything but the sun and fog he briefly forgets

what it looks like when it might rain


the brain can only keep so many memories and experiences on its forefront

We adapt, get used to routine

And then those memories that were tucked into the unconscious

are sparked from sight


On this night

riding through Nebraska

I remember what it’s like to see the heat reach its peak

Severe weather warning

Loud sounds screaming through the radio, a service to the public,

reminding you to be cautious and seek shelter

reminding you of proper protocol if the tornado and flash floods arrive


I punched the gas  

Trying to outrun the storm

Trying to get to a place of safety


The weather alert was over even though the storm wasn’t.

Then the radio returned to NPR


They were reporting on immigration

Since this issue is at the forefront of our consciousness.

Asylum seekers, refugees

With over 68 million people  

currently running from death and destruction

What to do? What to think? Can we help?

We are not the only country asking these questions


By now the storm had started

and the raindrops were ruthlessly slamming my windshield

But I eagerly turned my attention to the radio

Soaking up the backstory of public policy in the US

Since by knowing where we’ve been and what we’ve done

We can better understand where we want to go


This amount of refugees hasn’t been seen since World War II

They used a poignant story to draw a parallel


In 1939

a boat, packed with over 900 Jewish refugees

Hovered off Miami beach for 72 hours

FDR eventually said no, not here

And they returned to Europe

To the hands of Hitler


History books categorize this instance as 

the Voyage of the Damned.

History books also show Congress apologized for their actions

History will tell future generations of our current refugee crisis

Of people fleeing their homeland for fear of death

And I wonder how this picture will be painted

Since history is typically told through the victor’s point of view


I saw the edge of the cloud

Where the storm would stop

This gave me hope

And as I escaped

And released the pressure from the gas pedal

I thought of those who don’t see hope

Who only see violence

And are still looking for someone


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