Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Rime of the Youthful Passenger

On this day of Purim, please be extra careful on the roads. Drinking and driving do not mix. Which inspires me to dig up this little ditty I wrote over ten years ago.

It is a youthful passenger,
And he stoppeth one of four.
"By your unkempt hair, now let me pass
Into this liquor store!

"Now let me pass, you have no right
In this entrance to stand!"
He began to shout, when hast held out
The youth his youthful hand.

"I drove one day," the youth does say,
To yonder college hall
For I had planned to see a band
I'd first heard in the fall.

The rainy road was wet and glowed
With rain's descending whims
And molten drops dripped off the rocks
And bent the trees strong limbs

I drove that day upon my way
To yonder college tower
With time to kill for I was still
Too soon by half an hour

Along with me companions three
Did travel for the ride
And while we smoked, we drank and joked
And leaned out of the side

The roads were clear til we drew near
A frown came to my face
For in a pinch, now inch by inch
We moved a slow snails pace

A distance on, now here, now gone
We saw a black dog bound
And side to side, the cars all tried
to sneak their way around

With curses loud, our angry crowd
Did boil in the car and fume.
All for this were we to miss
Our concert starting soon?

And often we would roll our length
And just as often stop
And while we joked and drank and smoked
A passage opened up

Alcohol surging, companions urging
For me to race ahead
With panicked thrill, intent and will
I shot out like a sled

My right foot tapped, through narrow gap
My car slid through with roaring sound
Slid through and past, barreling fast
Into the street beyond'

The man said thus, 'Twas dangerous
To drive in such a state
And such narrow space, and in such haste
And on such slippery street

But here you are away from your car
Apparently safe and sound
So tell me now what weighs your brow?'
And he said, 'I killed the hound'

At first my mates did grandly state
That I had done no wrong
When to my shock the engine stopped
And traffic grew more strong

And then my friends did spite contend
That I had been at fault
A sudden sight did sap my might
And to eyes assault

The world turned dead, I felt my head
Begin to spin and fall
Each car stood painted on the road
Like nails stuck in a wall

Automobiles everywhere
And not a sound was heard
Endless miles of fenders and tires
As dead as a skewered bird

Above me clouds like funeral shrouds
Did part with silent scorn
Unholy lights like barrow wights
Pierced me like a thorn

Blood red cars as if from Mars
Came hurtling down at me
As they fell down they whirled around
And struck cars next to me

Every car in twenty three
Exploded in a fury
Each one picked out as if a shout
Of guilty from a jury

One in twenty three did die
From this unholy death
And wafting to my senses
Came the alcohol on their breath

And through all this I almost missed
Just one policeman walking
He wandered through the avenue
Ticketing cars for parking

My vision blurred my senses slurred
I felt my body falling
And as I dimmed my ears were brimmed
With cries of children calling

The next I knew when I came to
The world seemed straight again
I saw looks of uneasiness
On the faces of my friends

It seems that I had almost died
From jumping from the car
I closed my eyes and tried to rise
With pounding in my heart

As I grew calm I raised my palm
And told my friends to go
But not to drive if they alive
Would wish to return home

For I have learned that drinking earned
My fate upon that ride
And I have vowed to preach aloud
And swallow youthful pride

That if you wish your life to live
And if you wish to walk
If you have legs and arms and head
And if you wish to talk

And if you wish to walk this world
Straight and true, alive
I must dispense this common sense:
Don't ever drink and drive"

And saying thus, the youthful lad
Did wander down the street
I stood and watched him limping
Through the lonely crowded street.

Yehuda Berlinger

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