The Driving Seat

He sits in the driving seat

a wired up coil of rage

ready to spring,

a vacuum of anger

to feed from what was once her joy

spitting forth his accusations

like sparks from a torch,

blowing away the laughter,

blowing away the happy,

blowing away the merry


and so this is Christmas.


‘She was late to answer her mobile,

he’s texted several times,

he wanted her home early,

how dare she keep him waiting,,,’


His wife says very little,

riding the storm,

debating inside how best to handle

how best to make the stress just go away.


Miss Puddled, on the back seat

imagines acquainting the said mobile

with the inner sanctum of his rectum,

pictures the apoplectic bastard

self combusting on his own bile,

lost for words and signal lost,

incommunicado forever,

and though this isn’t her war,

the silence is too loud

the air too heavy

this journey too familiar -

distract, defuse

distract, defuse

distract, defuse


‘It was a great party

but the music was quite loud

Christmas is hard work, isn’t it?

so nice of them to give her a lift’


She’s silent in the front seat

building her walls

letting the words rain over her

sticks and stones might break her bones

but words

they just can’t reach her.


And I?

I thank Sweet Jesus

Holy Mary, and every saint

I never believed in

that I am not the eye of this storm

that I am not the I

in a third person poem

trying to achieve distance

that this is not my poem


that I

am just

the passenger.



◄ The Sky at Night

Sermo ut parietis ►


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Ged Thompson

Sat 26th Jan 2013 23:24

After going over this word by word sentence by sentence I am so sorry to tell you my friend that this piece is not only good but.........

Fucking brilliant

(I was in the car with you)

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Yvonne Brunton

Sun 30th Dec 2012 22:01

I don't read stress or psychosis into the driver's actions/reactions just a mysoginistic need to control - be the one who makes the rules and all the decisions, not trusting a mere woman to be capable of these actions. And the addition of the back seat witness (another woman)feeds the desire for power.
This poem shakes with the strength of the emotions it portrays and its slightly disjointed form reflects very accurately the way one's mind is working in this kind of situation. The woman is doubly humiliated both by her man and by having her treatment witnessed by a third party.
Sooooo Goood!

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Thu 20th Dec 2012 13:28

Road rage at Christmas! How "in the seat" that is still warm where the hiney has sat! A poem to which many can relate.

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Thu 20th Dec 2012 13:06

LOL Anthony - trust you to choose the one line that was written by somebody else - though the poetic 'genius' of lifting it and putting it in this poem, is mine ;)

Yes - I think we've all been in this situation to some degree, either as the driver, the passenger or the observer.

Thanks for your comment Mike. I don't think this man was at all psychotic. As I understand it, psychosis is caused by chemical imbalance in the brain, leading to altered perception of reality.

This man seemed to suffer from stress. Stress often makes people to want to have tight control over the domestic side of their life, where it is easier to achieve. Perhaps people who feel this extreme stress are ill in some way - and I do agree with you that early trauma can affect behaviour later on to some degree. It's impossible to generalise though - sometimes we are just the way we are and it's not anyone's or anything's fault.

I'd agree that it's always a good idea for young girls to have a parent to bring them home after a night out - or to come home with people you trust. I'd say the type of abuse in the poem is probably more common amongst long term married couples though - that's where most of anger seems to be taken out.

I do hope to find some peace and quiet at Christmas - no more unsolicited stress for me - ever :))

Have a wonderful Christmas too Mike, Anthony - everybody!

Isobel xx

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Anthony Emmerson

Thu 20th Dec 2012 12:24

Difficult to be such a dispassionate and silent observer in such a situation, but I think you do it well here. But, like it or not, we can't deny that such behaviour affects even the observer - hence the "need" to write about it.
This line was the killer for me:

"and so this is Christmas."

It encapsulates surrender, resignation and a loss of any expectation. A sad, yet all too familiar scenario.

Happy Christmas Isobel.x


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Wed 19th Dec 2012 23:09

I have been that man with rage but, I have been more the butt of abuse. He sounds really stressed and psychotic, I know both of them too. Sounds like he needs not the phone ramming up his jacksie but, perhaps a long vacation away to search what and who truly matters to him.

(My own stresses that have seen me react this way in the past were caused by too much time overseas on operations, that coupled with ill health)

although, I don't doubt that there are protagonists of anger out there that just cannot justify their rage (I have come across those too). I feel for the woman in the car, perhaps every good girl should be taught by concerned mothers and fathers to keep twenty quid aside for a taxi so avoiding putting themselves at risk.

Great poem and I feel your getting rid of some of your own anger in the way it is written. Very expressive, but what else would i come to expect from a poet as fantastic as yourself.

Have a great Christmas where I hope you can find some peace in this ever maddening world.

Mike x

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John Coopey

Wed 19th Dec 2012 17:19

Just popped by for a quick stroke.
I think I have been at various times the driver, the passenger and the lift.
On balance I think the lift's position is the least invidious - they get the chance to walk away from the storm.
Very vivid language. You paint a scene crackling with with heaviness.

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Wed 19th Dec 2012 16:50

Thanks for your comments folks.

I'm not sure if this is a departure so much as a change of style to suit the subject matter. It was an ugly scene and I wouldn't have wanted to write about it in rhyme or an overly poetic way.

The repetition is necessary for me - it gives me the distance I need to establish between me and the front passenger.

Sometimes, distance is all you can hope for :)

Thanks for reading. It's a busy time of year and I appreciate you making the time. xx

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Laura Taylor

Wed 19th Dec 2012 15:07

Really like this Isobel - very atmospheric.

Maybe some of the repetitions are slightly over-egged, but that's just my opinion, I don't think they're necessary to the quality of the poem :)

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Wed 19th Dec 2012 10:57

Really like the scenic narrative Isobel- the introduction of the back seat passenger late on is great and the ending also.

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Harry O'Neill

Tue 18th Dec 2012 22:33

This reads as grippingly as an excerpt from a good novel...It`s made me think all over again about the effect novels have had on poetry...
I can`t make up my mind.

(I suspect it`s something to do with the way novels -like so much modern poetry - dive straight in to the story)

I like the double take in the `not`

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Mon 17th Dec 2012 23:27

Quite a departure for you!
The nerve of some people... I could feel the stress just reading this!
Love the word 'apoplectic'.

Gotta love English verbiage too - 'The Driving Seat'
Around here we would say 'The Driver's Seat'


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