White Knuckles and Broken Cars

white knuckle rush hour grips when the sunset should be beautiful but all I can think about is the rubber-burn and tire screech of car crashes; of smoke and police sirens and the creep, crawl slow of traffic.

trazodone nights pass in heavy hazes that claw into heart heavy mornings; a leaden body—dressed as sunbeams break through windows and scream in all the tones still ringing from the day before, ringing and ringing and how many days have passed? tinnitus, endless and ceaseless and unbroken.

can mattresses swallow people? write me into a horror movie where a bed swallows me whole. a sacrificial lamb so plucky heroine can pull nine sequels to box office plummets, and I will be remembered (in passing, only; on Halloween nights passed with doors locked and candy hoarded for black-room marathons) by people who never knew my name.

yesterday I passed a Toyota scrunched like an accordion; I drive a Toyota, and sometimes I wonder what it might look like if it rolled beneath an eighteen-wheeler or took on the concrete median. there is a dent in the side, the wrong side, and sometimes I am asked about it. when your pain is on the outside people care. people ask about my car, but not about me. cars crumpled like soda cans on the sides of roads draw sympathy from passersby.

we write for fifteen minutes at the start of each english class. free-write. I learned stream of consciousness in high school. now I drag a pencil across the page; spill words onto loose-leaf. a page ripped from a notebook with a tear down the middle. I write about car crashes and bit parts in b-horror movies. I write about how I don’t know what to write about. the professor stands stern at the front of the room and I know she won’t collect our work because she never does. and my ears ring like they have for a month.

the window is open. if the wind tore my paper away from me it would not matter, because the professor does not want to read it. this is for us, she says. this is for us. I write about white knuckles on steering wheels. because no one will read it. because no one will ask if I’m okay. because no one will ever know my fixation on car crashes. because I am broken as accordion cars. this morning I waded through traffic and ached for the pick-up on the side of the road. dented and scratched. roughly worn.

Lexi Vranick is a poet and fiction writer from Long Island, New York. She is the self-published author of three titles, including Ready Aim Fire: A Poetry Collection, and holds a B.A. in Literature from Excelsior College, where she completed her undergraduate thesis on cultural perceptions of mental illness in literature. Her work has appeared in the Fly on the Wall Poetry’s MIND Poetry Project anthology Please Hear What I’m Not Saying. Lexi is the founding editor of Little Lion Literary, a literature and arts journal established in October 2018. When she is not writing, Lexi enjoys fiddling with cameras, advocating for mental health awareness, and trying to find the legs in a glass of merlot.

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