Car Troubles

Just dodged a bit of a bullet, and repairs to the car (which was sounding simply ghastly) were considerably less expensive than I feared. In honor of the old dear, a verse from quite a while ago, that a total of maybe six people read at the time. Which is too bad, cos I really liked this one. After the jump:

The Old Car

My car does not murmur; she groans and complains
And she limps–just a bit–on the right.
She shouts out in protest at tasks she disdains
As one cylinder fails to ignite.
Whenever we turn, there’s a noise from the brakes
That’s a hollow and cancerous cough.
The faster the highway, the harder she shakes
Until bits of her start to fall off.

I remember the days when she purred like a cat
So responsive, so agile, so fast;
She would tear through a curve and then leap down the flat
And refuse–stubborn thing–to be passed.
I will always remember the car she once was—
That’s the reason I can’t let her go;
It’s the things that she did, not the things that she does;
I suppose it will always be so.

I, myself, I admit, may be showing some wear
And my warrantee’s long since expired;
There’s some rust in the joints and some grey in the hair
And what once revved me up makes me tired.
When I look, with my near-sighted eyes, at my car
It’s the beauty of old that I see;
If you look this direction—I see that you are—
Would you please do that favor for me?


  1. Phledge says

    Relieved that I’m not the only person who gleefully anthropomorphizes hir car. Glad to see you dust this one off for new audiences!

  2. Cuttlefish says


    The car in the poem is one I grew up with, actually, before I was old enough to drive. My folks used to keep an umbrella on the passenger’s seat, with the handle hooked to the armrest, to keep the door closed on left-hand turns. I suppose some of my first car is in there, too, an old boat of an Impala that someone had ruined and then sold to an ignorant fool. Me. Chewed up tires, never held an alignment, burned oil something fierce. I loved that car.

  3. HP says

    I’ve been on a bit of a tear lately with 19th c. sentimental ballads, and this reminds so much of “Grandfather’s Clock” that I’m a bit weepy, except that I’m visualizing a blue ’78 Datsun, in the background of a faded Polaroid showing a skinny Cuttlefish with feathered hair and a Fu Manchu, wearing a plaid flannel shirt, jeans, and Hush Puppies.

  4. Cuttlefish says

    HP, that is a bit scary. I actually did have some flannel shirts and jeans.

    The rest of it, not so much. But the feel is spot-on.

  5. HP says

    Well, I figured I was off in the details, but as far as 1978 goes, I was there. I remember what it felt like.

    At least it wasn’t an El Camino, right? Please, tell me it wasn’t an El Camino.

  6. Cuttlefish says

    Best of my knowledge, it was a ’76 Impala. Looking through a google photo search, yeah, it was a ’76 Impala. Mind you, I owned it in ’83, so it had seen some years already.

    The earlier one was… a Rambler. Best not to even go there.

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