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Poems of the Open Road

by Lionel E. Deimel



Parking Lot

I back up in the parking lot

And wish that I could see

Around the object to my right,

That monstrous SUV.

Car keys



Cars entering tunnel       

The line before the tunnel crawls,

Though morning rush is past;

I creep through darkness to the end,

Where cars again move fast.


Four-way Stop

The rules for four-way stops are clear—

No need for green or red:

I wait for him; he waits for me;

We both speed on ahead.

Stop sign



Radio microphone

When cruising down the interstate,

My radio’s my friend;

Though stories sometimes have a start

But haven't any end.



I find the truck ahead too slow,

And so I choose to pass;

But when I look behind, I see

That truck is on my ass.

Big truck




On unfamiliar urban roads,

The challenge that I fear

Is, mid the zooming cars and trucks,

To read the signs and steer.


Rental Car

It’s great to have a rental car

With features you need now;

I’m trying to use the radio

But cannot figure how.

     New car


Changing Lanes

Car with side-view mirror  

That van behind is gaining fast;

I hope the right lane’s clear;

But in the mirror cars are not

As far as they appear.


These poems may be more about venting frustration than creating art. No doubt, most readers can relate to these poems with no further annotation, but I will offer a few explanations. Pittsburgh has three long vehicular tunnels—the inspiration for “Tunnel”—that tend to be traffic bottlenecks. It is a local mystery why cars can creep, bumper-to-bumper, through one of these tunnels, only to find open road at the other end. When I make long car trips, I usually listen to National Public Radio as much as I can. “Radio” was born of the frustration of trying to hear all of a program as I move from the coverage area of one NPR station to that of another. The first three poems were written 10/25/2001, and the next three were written over the next two days. Some minor improvements were made 4/7/2002 and on 6/21/2003. “Rental Car” was written 5/19/2003, the same day I made changes to “Expressway” to clarify the frustration that inspired it—the task of reading, understanding, and reacting to signs on unfamiliar highways, amid fast-moving traffic. Changing Lanes” was written 2/13/2005

Readers of “Four-way Stop” may enjoy my essay on this type of intersection.

— LED, 2/13/2005

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