Witness To The End Of Vacation

 Witness To The End Of Vacation
  
 “This traffic is so bad
 you could die in it,” I said
 from my Civic. And then, 
 prophetically, someone did.
  
 I blamed the governments - 
 assigning a single customs officer to man
 all eight border control booths on July 4th –  
 The line to leave Canada constipated
  
 for miles. A well-intentioned tourist
 balled a Niagara Falls souvenir
 sweatshirt under the man’s neck
 as they untangled the man
  
 from his seatbelt and unfolded
 his unconscious body
 onto the center lane.  Other drivers
 who weren’t driving anyway
  
 stepped out of their cars to flag
 the wailing ambulance like a parade float, 
 but the man’s heart
 gave up on waiting.  
  
 There is no protocol
 for what to do when a man dies of heart attack 
 in the center lane of border patrol traffic, 
 though we in a five car radius turned off
  
 our radios and engines; It seemed the dead
 should not be subjected to Justin Bieber
 nor bathe in our exhaust.  Miles behind us,
 cars were honking, hungry to get to America.

***

I cheated a bit. It’s a revision of an old poem, but it worked well enough for the dVerse Poetics 428 – Poetry as Witness and Go Dog Go Cafe 3 Favorite “W” Words prompts, so I couldn’t resist.

32 thoughts on “Witness To The End Of Vacation

  1. revivedwriter November 11, 2020 / 12:24 am

    ” It seemed the dead
    should not be subjected to Justin Bieber
    nor bathe in our exhaust.”

    That’s considerate. Is it bad that this line made me laugh? This is amazingly written.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. peterfrankiswrites November 11, 2020 / 1:00 am

    Wonderful poem, evocative of that awful moment. I liked how you managed the timing and the tension in the piece – the man moves from unconscious to dead, ‘unfolded’ from the accident to the centre line. And that tender moment when his head rests on the Niagara Falls t-shirt. Also the opening out in the last line – the crowds beyond the tragedy impatient…still dreaming their dreams. Terrific piece. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jewishyoungprofessional November 11, 2020 / 11:19 pm

      Thank you! This is such excellent, detailed feedback. I really appreciate it. Thank you also for the prompt as inspiration! It was exactly what I need to fuel the necessary revisions.

      Like

  3. ShiraDest November 11, 2020 / 5:06 am

    Oh, no, I am so sorry to hear you had to go through this.
    Safe Air Hugs, if wanted, from chilly(!) San Diego, CA!

    Liked by 3 people

    • jewishyoungprofessional November 11, 2020 / 11:21 pm

      Aww, air hugs back! This was based on an event from 8 years ago (back in those wild pre-COVID days when one could cross the border from USA to Canada in the first place…)

      Liked by 1 person

    • jewishyoungprofessional November 11, 2020 / 11:24 pm

      Based on a true story with a bit of creative license. Actually, in truth, I don’t really know what happened to the man and I will never know. I hope he was fine.

      Like

    • jewishyoungprofessional November 11, 2020 / 11:26 pm

      Based on a true story with some creative license to make for a better poem. (I did witness the unconscious man pulled from his car in the middle of the massive Canada Day – Independence Day weekend traffic, the stalled bystanders trying to help, the ambulance coming). I don’t actually know what happened in the end and I will never know. I hope he was fine.

      Liked by 1 person

      • sarcasticfringehead November 11, 2020 / 11:37 pm

        Gosh how dramatic and scary to watch! You’ve turned it into a beautiful piece of writing

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ingrid November 11, 2020 / 10:20 am

    A powerful poem, skilfully woven. You say so much in this short poem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jewishyoungprofessional November 11, 2020 / 11:28 pm

      Thank you! Really appreciate the feedback. Also “a tragedy in traffic” is such a great line! Maybe an alternate title? Another piece? Hmmm…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) November 11, 2020 / 9:09 pm

    What a story… it seems like you were in a bubble where a different world existed that was not festive… I can almost imagine you turning back after something like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. robtkistner November 11, 2020 / 10:57 pm

    I know this was a sad event, but you made me smile — no one should be subjected to Justin Birber, dead or alive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jewishyoungprofessional November 11, 2020 / 11:29 pm

      Haha, it is a funny line. I don’t think Justin Bieber’s music is all bad, but he’s an easy target and Canadian, so I had to put it in!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Melanie November 12, 2020 / 6:41 am

        Lol. Next time you need a Canadian target 🎯 you can use me. They have to be really careful at the border to make sure no crazies get into the U.S. 😇

        Liked by 1 person

      • Melanie November 12, 2020 / 9:19 pm

        My children are American so the border is not as big a deal to me as some people I think. 🙂

        Like

  7. Grace November 12, 2020 / 1:10 am

    I so enjoyed your story tonight. Though sad, the ending made me smile. I am sure all are eager and hungry to cross the border to the USA.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dora November 12, 2020 / 7:00 pm

    Something so surreal about this, beginning with the “prophetic” note and ending with a body stretched out “in the center lane of border patrol traffic”. But then the closing, “hungry to get to America” crashes in, and we’re disconcerted again. Well done, JYP.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. poetrybydebi November 12, 2020 / 9:08 pm

    the last two verses are a funny, but scalding, commentary on the 21st century

    Liked by 1 person

    • jewishyoungprofessional November 12, 2020 / 10:32 pm

      In their defense, the cars that are miles behind the scene have no idea of the reason for the traffic standstill, so I can understand the impatience. It is unfortunate though.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. johnlmalone November 15, 2020 / 4:28 am

    a terrific poem: the opening is perfect; a splendid last stanze too with a smidgin of humour 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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