March 13 Robert Phillips: Running on Empty

Had a rather ambitious day yesterday, so I’m feeling depleted today. Thought I’d post a poem inspired by how I feel today. (It’s okay, I’ll be ambitious tomorrow.)

A poem about teen rebellion, about what it is to ride the edge, to feel that thrill. I’ve been there many times – I go there often, running red-hot, then you fall off an edge and, whoops! the meter’s gone. The end of the poem feels like the morning after – like regret. Missing the fun of going, going, going, wishing that there was something left. sigh.

Running on Empty

by Robert Phillips

As a teenager I would drive Father’s
Chevrolet cross-county, given me

Reluctantly: “Always keep the tank
half full, boy, half full, ya hear?”

The fuel gauge dipping, dipping
toward Empty, hitting Empty, then
– thrilling! – ‘way below Empty,
myself driving cross-country

mile after mile, faster and faster,
all night long, this crazy kid driving

the earth’s rolling surface,
against all laws, defying chemistry,

rules, and time, riding on nothing
but fumes, pushing luck harder

than anyone pushed before, the wind
screaming past like the Furies…

I stranded myself only once, a white
night with no gas station open, ninety miles

from nowhere. Panicked for a while,

At dawn the car and I both refilled. But,
Father, I am running on empty still.


About penneloppe

I like to write horror, dark fantasy and crime fiction. Sometimes, I'll write science fiction, but usually I like to write science fact. I also write screenplays and stage plays. My day job is office work. I live in Seattle and I have a cat.
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