top of page

Driving Lesson

With an odor of stale tobacco
my father rises early as usual
he’s in there again rustling the newspaper
pencilling the crossword puzzle
so I must urinate in the garden
behind the Sweet William
my water hosing the convulvulus
targeting an ant or a beetle
here I’m a general, a king, a poet


Today, eggs and toast later
we ride downtown to the place where he works
his empire of oily floors and gray clanking machinery
he sits on a cushion while he drives
to see over the wheel of his oversized automobile
the adrenalin of my seventeenth birthday
fresh in my veins, today is my first driving lesson


The old Chevvy snorts on the sand road
behind the factory, lurches and stalls
lurches and protests, clutch, brake,
clutch, brake, easy on the gas, clutch, brake
this is second gear, this is third, not for you
clutch, brake to the end of the sand
ans back again, he’s off to the office
leaving me alone with the Chevvy

Dare I venture on the open road?
I dare
dare I lurch to the intersection?
I dare, Chevvy snorting, stalling
clutch, brake, dare I change down to third?
I dare, I’m king, king of the road
Chevvy pumping down the highway
a shiny black bug, driven by an ant

With a scrape of fenders clashing
 and a crumple of painted steel
we pass a shiny Ford, a shade too close
we stop, he emerges, waves unpronounceable fists
he’s on the way to sell the Ford, now look at it!

Papers, what papers? he writes my name, phone number
father’s name address, I shrug, smile,
he promising repair accounts drives off
I drive home, still smiling
I negotiate the Chevvy
between the gateposts
down the driveway
through the garage doors
and into the garage wall


Even my father’s wrath
mixed I hoped, with a little pride
could not remove the smile
I had learned to drive
in one lesson
sixty years ago

To Go Back To
Hit your browser's

© Johnmichael Simon



bottom of page