Tuesday, May 8, 2018

(New Poem) -- Internal Combustion – Vision for a New Dark Age

Internal Combustion – Vision for a New Dark Age

“Come with me, child, past all this camouflage.”
“Is there a secret garden there, Grandpa?”
“Not quite.  It’s just a small, padlocked garage,
To keep out the enforcers of the law.”

I keyed the lock, and lifted up the door
For just the time it took us to walk in.
The bulb inside was 60 Watts, not more.
I closed the door, and she began to grin.

“What’s that, Grandpa?  It’s like Ezekiel’s wheels!
Or like some dragon, full of majesty!”
“That, my girl, is called an automobile,
The way that God intended it to be.”

“In old times, men were brave and women fierce.
We steered our own machines, commanded flame
With pulsing, violent roar I know would pierce
The souls of timid moderns, grown too tame.”

“’Autonomous’, back then, pertained to men
And women, whom these brute machines obeyed.
But now, we’ve yielded all control to them,
To these completely soulless cars we’ve made.”

“May I please touch it Gramps?” she asked me, keen.
“Oh, I insist!” I said.  “Learn every curve.”
She moved with reverence to the machine,
And measured it with heart and hand and verve.

“Imagine now the thundering exhaust,
And rubber smoke from crisply chirping tires.
Imagine mankind not enslaved to Cost,
But free to race, the way the heart desires.”

“These were not fashioned by some gamer geek,
But crafted out of elbow grease and passion.
Their power would make faint the modern meek,
And cause their sissy faces to turn ashen.”

“These fire-belching dragons we adored
Commanded our respect but not our fear.
So, here’s to Harley Earl and Henry Ford,
And everyone to ever grind a gear.”

“Their spirit, child, I see it in your eyes,
Or else I’d not have brought you here to see
What others of your age would just despise.
But you will keep this car alive for me.”

“Alive for some bright day when, once again, 
The riotous act of driving is reclaimed.
Then, you will start this hot rod, and weak men
Shall gaze upon its glory and be shamed.”

© 2018, Paul W. Erlandson


Castanea_d said...

I love it! I've been increasingly uneasy about what seems an inevitable push toward self-driving vehicles. Too few people in those discussions even mention what for me is a major issue: the sheer joy of being behind the wheel, of being fully engaged with the car and the road. For me, it is two-lane highways in the Appalachians, full of switchbacks as you go up and down the ridges, working the gears, gauging what speed you can take into the next turn. I used to be very good at this, until we moved to the Midwest; in latter years, it was a special treat to go back east to the hill country for vacations and being out of practice (and older) I was more careful than in the old days.

I was never a muscle-car guy; my car until this past December was a 1996 Civic, four-speed manual transmission, bought new and driven for 21 years. Didn't even have power windows; you rolled them up and down with a crank. And it didn't have a lot of power, but what it did have was excellent handling. It loved those mountain highways. I loved that car, driving it and doing maintenance on it, even sleeping in it when on the road.

No one is going to love a self-driving car.

You will perhaps hate me for this, but after my Civic went to the junkyard (after $3000 of repairs last year and an estimate for another $2000 needed), I got a 2013 Prius C (the small version of the Toyota hybrid). It is a good car, low milage and in excellent condition, sold to me at a bargain price by one of the older ladies in the church. It is ideal for the commuting which is my normal bread-and-butter mode of driving. Reliable. Inexpensive to drive (I am getting the EPA's 50 mpg from it). And I enjoy it, in all its hybrid geekiness. But it doesn't handle like the Civic, not even close.

I do enjoy mashing the accelerator to the floor - which you have do to every time you venture up an "on" ramp to the Interstate. Talk about "not much power!" There were not many occasions where I could get away with "pedal to the metal" even with the old Civic. Now it is once a day, on my way home from the church.

But there is little or no repair work I could ever do on it. It is all computers and electronics, an unknowable "black box." At least it still needs a driver.

The day is likely to come when your poem is how it is - a few old-timers showing off their old autonomous (and probably illegal) cars to grandchildren.

All good wishes to you, and God's blessings.

Castanea_d said...

Make that Five-Speed on the Civic instead of four. How soon we forget!!!