Finish Line

I’ve never written in response to a Poetry Thursday challenge before, but this week it was ekphrasis — just like the current theme at qarrtsiluni, the literary blogzine I help edit. So how could I resist?

This fairly inconsequential little poem was written in response to “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Judy W, from this post at Elegant Thorn Review.

The secret to us
staying together, I said,
is just not to think
about the finish line.
You got to keep your eyes
on the road. Out by
the speedway, we found a bench
with all of its slats intact.
The roar of the cars & the crowd
came in waves, like the ocean.
You could smell the exhaust.

We had everything with us,
but it wasn’t enough for her.
You go on, then, I said.
I was already carving
our love into the wood,
but stopped before the plus sign
& her own six letters.
I don’t want to miss
this chance, I said.
One of those waves
isn’t going to stop.

[Poetry Thursday – dead link]

18 Replies to “Finish Line”

  1. there is such a sense of self awareness and acceptance in these lines. it reminds me of the title of a book by chogyam trungpa, “the path is the goal”. very good job. welcome to poetry thursday.

  2. Welcome to PT, I hope you can find all sorts of good stuff here. :)

    I like your poem, it pulls the readers awareness back from, “what if”, to “why not now?” Too many never live because what if rules.

  3. Thanks, Brian. I am a little surprised by the positive messages you and tiffany found in this poem, but I can see where you’re coming from. (And that’s why feedback from readers on poems is sometimes so illuminating!)

  4. Interesting piece. The imagery you create is attractive to me, being a motor racing fan myself. Nothing like the smell of fuel and the roar of the engines. I went to a Formula One race in Britain.
    I like this poem, you wrote it well.

  5. This poem is very sad to me, I must admit. But things like this happen only too often in life. Thanks for posting it — it was an interesting mesh of image and emotion.

  6. I love this! Like all good ekphrastic poems, it doesn’t try to recreate the image but to give the reader something of what the image means to the writer. The persona seems real too.

    The photo is also beautiful, although I wish she hadn’t titled it after a Green Day song.

  7. Green Day’s song coloured my expectations here, but once i stopped their lyrics running through my head i could concentrate on the poem and its beautifully melancholy and has a sad wistful atmosphere to it. Fits the photo perfectly too.

  8. Thanks, all, for the warm welcome to PT and the appreciative comments. Strangely, I think I’ve gotten just about the same number of comments here as i sprinkled around on other participants’ blogs, though it’s not the same people, which makes me think that Poetry Thursday is a real community.

    I must admit that I am not familiar with the Green Day song, and thus didn’t haven’t have that resonance to contend with. At any rate, I’m grateful for the range of responses here.

  9. Thanks, gautami!

    RLC – I appreciate that, but I really do feel it’s a minor effort. Which is not to say it doesn’t succeed at what it sets out to do.

  10. I feel the same sentiments as Michelle (“This poem is very sad to me“), but I also enjoyed the poem. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to express why I like it so much, but I’m not a good critic. Just that, it’s one of my favorites of yours.

    My favorite lines:
    I don’t want to miss
    this chance, I said.
    One of those waves
    isn’t going to stop.

  11. Welcome to Poetry Thursday, and thanks for the wonderful first contribution.

    I love the tension between the narrator’s acts of assertion– carving his name into the bench and claiming not to want to “miss this chance”–and the rather sad fact that he is stopping at the bench, letting go of the one connection he has, and relying on the waves of sound from unseen and unknown competitors and spectators to take him where?

    I think the starkness of the poem matches the starkness of the photo wonderfully, by the way.

  12. Gina Marie – Thanks. And I’m not a good critic either, as you may have noticed. (My typical comment on a blog post I really liked is “I really liked this,” or some variation thereof.)

    Hi Jon – Thanks for the thoughtful reaction. Y’all have made me feel quite welcome indeed.

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