Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Red Car

It was a blue car,

But in my mind it was red,

And in the light your face

Was blue then white then red.

Somewhere to the side

A giant boy, his stomach,

Shining white and red,

Grinned in the neon light,

And even then I thought

How very ludicrous,

How simply funny

That your face flashed

White then blue then red

And the car flashed blue then red

Beneath the smile

Of a red and white boy

And the blue and white faces

Moving in the neon night

And the changing flashes

Of the pulsing light

That was blue then white

Then red.


  1. I am hearing the narrative voice in this and liking it very much. But underneath I am seeing the changing colors as emotions passed through while hanging out at in of the old drive-ins. The ones we cruise to with our friends an our under the hood muscle. Where we used to hang out before the cops would come along and move the cars out as we fired 'em up and go to the next one down the road repeating it all over again.

    Like this Karen. Like the imagery and the memory it caused.

  2. This was eerie. The fat boy. The flashing lights that sound like emergency vehicles. The dazed sensation of the narrator. I wonder about the event. I feel mesmerized.

  3. All the colors...except the real ones.

  4. It's kind of like a bad trip (in the drugs-sense), but you know, of course I like it! I pictured a teenage girl stuck on a date that was going nowhere. (Maybe because I've been there myself so many times.)

  5. I remeber those Big Boy drive-ins, with the trays that fit on the car window! Great piece, Karen.

  6. Hi, Karen! I love this poem! I love the rhythm and the way it imitates the flashing of lights. The line structure gives it such a sense of immediacy, and I can literally picture the people in the car even without their descriptions. The voice is awesome.

    Yes, I think of drive-ins, too. And Americana. And then you invert "red, white, and blue" into "blue, white, and red" on the fourth line! What a good detail. It gives the twinge...just a hint...of something darker, and I dig that.

    I remember a story in the news about a Big Boy that was stolen. I can't remember if it was where I used to live or somewhere else. Now I have to go look it up...haha! Thanks for another great poem, Karen!

  7. This is atmospheric in just the right way--leaves the questions open in the right way; & very satisfying word play with the colors. Well done!

  8. Karen- the problem for me is that you do this so well that I am always mesmerized by the art of your pen and miss the subject matter. There is such a lovely subtlety to where you take us. A quiet blue car. ~rick

  9. Weird and wavy, surreal in an ethereal kind of dreamy fashion. It's different and it's good and I likes it!

  10. TWM - I love that this sparks those memories in you. We're of the same era, I know, and so I can picture that younger you revving the engine just enough to be sneer before you move to the next drive in! I love that picture.

    Chris - Yay! The confusion is deliberate. Thanks for letting me know I succeeded in that.

    jason - Oh, but they were the real ones!

    Kat - A bad trip in many senses. Yes.

    Willow - Curb service! Would people even know what that is today? Does Sonic still do that?

    Julie - Thank you for all of the comments on form. I appreciate your reading so closely and letting me know how the writing affects you. By the way, I think the Big Boy was stolen in my hometown. It was actually returned eventually. Of course, this prank might have been repeated in many places! Now, how could you hide the Big Boy?

    John - Thank you for your comments on atmosphere!

    Rick - Aw, shucks! What a nice thing to say!

    TFE - Thanks to you, my friend. Otherwise, this would just be filling up the crevices of my brain!

  11. At first read it was kind of just a fun color wash, but on second read it felt very much like something was happening that involved cops or an ambulance and a sense of the surreal. Strange, but very effective!

  12. all this repetitions that aren't repetitions. it's strangely hypnotic. and strange! i like that there's no certainty as to what's going on and that, even if there was, i possibly wouldn;t want to know!

  13. Curious... I'm not quite sure what to make of it yet, will have to keep thinking. Also, this could grow into a wonderful ghazal, I feel like, with the repetition of the colors. But only you know the story behind it, methinks. :)

  14. Ooooh - I really like this. It sounds like a first date that might have gone wrong. There's something menacing about the way the colours play out.

  15. OK good, I was confused a little as well, but it has a mix of memory and stream of conciousness, which is how we experience really. Never completely concious of the moments without inner reflection and commmentary. Kinda like blogging, ya know?

    I especially liked the anchor to the poem with the repetition at the end. Very rhythmic and song-lyric worthy.

  16. I really liked this. The repetitions are so effective, and the whole strangeness of what's going on draws you in deep. So you wonder, and mind wander, and read it again. Memorable piece.

  17. Cat - Thanks! I'm glad you felt that.

    swiss - I think you have made a very good point about poetry. I often don't want to know the backstory. Poetry is about interpretation and making it one's own.

    joe - That's what I like - a commitment that's not a commitment! ;-) I haven't tried a ghazal yet. Maybe I will.

    Pure Fiction - Welcome, and thanks for stopping by and commenting. I enjoyed your pink poem!

    Dianne - You make a good point about the way we process reality - with an inner dialogue that never ends. Thanks for your comments.

    Titus - Thanks, Joanne.

  18. Karen, this is amazing!! I just love your reach here, and the emotional landscape of memory you've painted. No, not landscape--it's cinematic. Makes me think of David Lynch, or someone similarly surreal and dark. Everything's too hyper-saturated. And with so many shifts, it can be hard to absorb what's really happening...

    I love the way your mind works. You are a master of matching form with meaning. I've seen that countless times, but with this one, you've really created an experience for us. You let us live the moment, layered in memory as it is. And what could any of us do better as a writer?

  19. I agree with Titus. The repetitions were very effective. A strong poem on many fronts, though.

  20. Sarah - Thank you for your comment on form. You always seem to understand just what I was going for. Your comments are too kind, as usual, but I really do appreciate the specific feedback.

    Dave - Thank you, Dave!

  21. it may be because a (long gone) bob's big boy figured heavily into my teen years, or because i think having a big boy combo & a shake at the old bob's in burbank belongs on anyone's bucket list, but my reading of this was rigged. by happiness.

    it just felt like a wonderful memory, dizzy and joyful, when you remember thinking you'd always remember it - a small moment - lights and laughter and a diner parking lot.

    i also love that you titled it "red car" - after how you prefer to think of it rather than how it really was. i think we all do that with memories sometimes.

  22. This poem IS a neon light, I love it!

  23. I loved the place this poem took me and your way of writing is quietly enthrawling :-)

  24. Delicious repetition of the colours and, like the other have said, terrific feeling of being just off-balance. great stuff!

  25. joaquin - Isn't it interesting how our own personal histories inform our reading? Someone mentioned this as an acid trip; someone else as the scene of an accident. Truth is, it's whatever the reader thinks it is - even a happy, carefree youth spent at the drive-in! I'm so glad you read this with happiness!

    Moira - Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting!

    watercats - Glad this red car was running! Thanks for your comments.

    Argent - Thank you!

  26. Ghost - You could not have given me a better gift than this. The music and visuals are breathtakingly beautiful, and dare I say...haunting? You've caused me to go in search of more, and if you haven't seen it, you might like this:

    I'm enchanted. Thank you!!!

  27. Oh this is so different in such a good way, Karen. Unique. And, I too felt the colours meant more than just being colours.

    Your writing has become so spellbinding of late. I love it!

  28. Calli - Thank you. Coming from a visual artist, I appreciate the comment on colors - for you know that they mean more than they are.

  29. This feels ominous to me. I think my blood pressure just rose.

    Funny how those flashing lights have that effect on me...

  30. the cops would come along and move the cars out as we fired 'em up and go to the next one down the road repeating it all over again.

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