September 19, 2006


This poem is based on a real accident, though one I read about, not one I was actually in.

Articles of Faith

Black ice. An accident’s chain-
reaction like toppled dominoes,
and you steer into a skid
on the frictionless slick
missing, by the merest sleet needle,
a chrome-crumpler 28 cars long. It’s night,
your face glows dashboard green
touched with gold as we pass
streetlights in review.
Someone up there
must be watching out
for us,
you say, meaning you,
me, and this carcass of a 1989 Chevy,
in ‘06 still too good to let go.
But it is something more than
mischief in me when I remind you
of the 28 drivers whose cars accordioned
in the whiplash of impact.
Was the big guy upstairs
not watching out for them, then,
or worse, deliberate in his neglect?
But this is not a theological poem,
it is only a prayer whistled
devil-may-care into the void
by a nonbeliever who knows nothing
is guaranteed save that none of us
will survive our lives. The pile-up
behind us, we’re wowed breathless
by the nearness of our miss
and though there’s still
the matter of those hapless 28,
I, too, whisper Thank God!
to still my trembling hands.

Posted by pamwagg at September 19, 2006 12:37 AM


Dear Paula, Thank you for the lovely comment. The straight-forwardness and simplicity are deceptive however; it takes a great deal of work to get to the point where a poem sounds "natural" and spontaneous yet is not just "vomiting on the page"; I write and rewrite until every comma and semi-colon satisfies me. That said, I love the SO...I always appreciate those!

Pam W

Posted by: Pamwagg at September 19, 2006 01:53 PM

I really like your new poems. Please keep writing and posting.


Posted by: ky perraun at September 19, 2006 01:50 PM

Dear Pammy,
My comment incompasses the three new poems you have recently presented. I know that I have an unfair advantage over those who are unfamiliar with your earlier poetry, but I am truly intrigued by these poems. In my opinion, you have exhibited a radical change in subject matter, style,and the former ever present ambiguity of your earlier work. These poems are quite straight forward and have a narrative quality that is a departure(at least technically speaking) from your previous work. They are like a breath of fresh air, almost as if a new Muse is perched on your shoulder, whispering into your ear. They are natural in tone and specific to a thought or event, which is quite different from the universal quality of your work with which I am more familiar. When you commented that the medication you are now taking has seemed to flood you with the need to write, I see a clear analogy between your present poems and the last and most famous poems of the late Sylvia Plath, furiously typed in the early hours of the morning. There is an urgency to record the words before they take flight. There is no time to write and rewrite. Emotion is the primary fuel now. I am not saying that these poems are anything like Plath's. I just feel the freedom you have allowed yourself is similar. Freedom notwithstanding, however, your poems are beautifully crafted and ever so gratifying to the fortunate people who were blessed with the opportunity to read them.

Standing Ovation, Your ET

Posted by: Paula Kirkpatrick at September 19, 2006 01:24 PM

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