Thirty-Seven Seconds


Your voice still burning in my ears, I slammed
the car door, drove away, away from you.
Night, single-lane service road, divided
from the highway by a walled embankment.

The rain fell in torrents, alternating
lightning and wind. Suddenly, from out of
the oncoming lane, a red sedan veered,
crossed the solid yellow median, towards me –

Caught between the onrush of traffic
accelerating to the highway merge
on one side, and the wall on the other.
No room to move, and the oncoming car

nearly on me, three-and-a-half thousand
pounds of steel at 60 mph.


In that moment there was no cinema
reel of my own life flickering in front
of me. Only you, images of you –
you in anger, eyes flashing; you caught in

a half-stifled yawn; you smiling at a
shared secret; you falling into dreaming.
And in that instant, an overwhelming,
clarifying sadness enveloped me.

I braked hard, my traction control stuttered
alive, and tried to swerve from the headlong
rush of eternity bearing on me,
towards the steep embankment, choosing life.

Heavy steel raked into the driver's side,
shearing off my door, my armor, my shell.


The side structural pillar buckled, but
held, a barricade against the abyss.
Still belted in my seat, I breathed in rain.
Around my silence lay shattered glass and

insulation, fiberglass and steel - like
Icarus' wings, feathers and melted wax
fallen from his shoulders - strewn there where my
broken body might have been, where it all

might have ended. There in the wreckage of
my old world, caught in the lightning strobe and
the ambulance flash, holding on to your
image, a time-reversed Polaroid fading

into sepia, a memento of that
instant when I thought I’d lost - everything.


  1. Short link -

  2. You nailed the time element in this series, turning expectations upside down, cramming a whole life into second which move at a crawl and yet hard and hot as lightening--so that metaphore alone for all of life and love moved me very much. Then the continuing image of being trapped that pervades the poem, of choosing even as there are no choices, bound in the mangled vehicle--another crushing trope that underlies the motion and stillness of the poem. Reading ...

  3. This poem came to life, grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and never released its stranglehold, even after the final words were read.....Bravo

  4. i was looking through the shorty nominations and saw your entry up under literature. I got curious and decided to look at your blog. I'm so glad I did. This poem was so damn beautiful. The way you executed time, the format, your words, ESPECIALLY your words. My heart ached. I never go for long poems but you changed my mind. Please continue writing. Your work is so wonderful. I'm going to link this poem if you don't mind :) thank you again.

  5. Very sharp, Sam. In every way imaginable.


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