I had a serious car accident in 1994, and narrowly escaped one two decades before that. In both instances, what has stayed with me through the years is the sounds, the horrible, jarring sounds that seemingly never go away and wake you, years later, drenched in terror, reliving it all again. Not much of my poetry is caught up in drama or events... but this one materialized after I narrowly escaped an accident near Clearwater, FL, in 2003.
WASTED AFTERNOON OF TWISTED METAL
Just another traffic jam.
Blocked for miles, lanes of traffic
Simmering with the lack of forward movement.
Time passes and your fears and frustration mount.
What haunts me are the sounds
Strident blare of sirens
Fumbling moves to the grass
Out of the way as ambulance passes.
We try to find pavement again
Plotting strategy, nowhere to exit.
When a second vehicle of death and damage
Elbows its way through, siren screaming its mission.
Now a vague uneasiness settles
We all wonder about the human suffering
Ahead, and wish
To be anywhere but here.
Minutes pass and there is a channel
Finally a way to the outside
Off the path, small road, too much egress
“Squeal” too tame to describe
The fierce cacophony
Of brakes applied roughly
Trying to hold, failing, seeming doubled in volume.
Followed by the rough horror
Of metal on metal
A crunching agony of twisting
Damage is a haunting sound.
Rough embrace of power from behind
Pushing, shredding both mine and
My neighbor’s car, the other lane
Also in fierce crescendo.
And then silence
The impact too intrusive,
Too surreal and invasive to believe.
Out of the car, try to breathe.
Accident caused by accident
Everyone stunned and broken
Thankful that there are no bleeding injuries.
At my side an aching throb of wounded ribs.
We survey the twisted kingdom
Of men’s chariots, now in pieces.
The waiting begins for
The arrival of the peace officers.
For at last, there is peace for us
Nowhere to go, little to say
Nothing to accomplish
Needing to pick up the pieces
And move on.
The sounds will resonate in dreams.