Ode to the Last of the Self-Driving Cars
The last self-driving car loops and loops along an eternal road trip from Maine to California and back, cruising by Graceland and Yellowstone and what’s left of Route 66 along the way, someone having neglected to input an endpoint.
It’s self-charging, self-lubricating, self-inflating. It’s the essence of America. It’s all of our dreams boiled down to a hard drive that hasn’t crashed yet and 3,000 pounds of sheet metal and plastic.
No one has noticed it. It has learned to blend in. Its brethren are mostly in junkyards in Oklahoma and Michigan. Too many accidents, eventually we stood up for ourselves.
People were dying.
People are always dying, usually we don’t care.
We needed someone to blame.
That’s true. Once a society has decided efficiency is the only absolute—well, there are many examples, none of them good.
What do you think happened?
Maybe someone planned the vacation of a lifetime but died in her sleep the night before she was to leave. Maybe someone stopped to pee at the wrong rest stop, the wrong time, caught or shot in the middle of a robbery or a riot or someone else’s domestic nightmare.
The car carried on.
Carries on, despite the odds. How tempting it is to attribute a certain pluckiness to its efforts.
Someday it will stop.
Until that day, let us praise its least human qualities.
Let us stand on our front porches and salute as it passes.
Amorak Huey, a 2017 NEA Fellow, is author of the poetry collections Ha Ha Ha Thump (Sundress, 2015) and Boom Box (Sundress, forthcoming 2019), as well as two chapbooks. He is co-author of the textbook Poetry: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology (Bloomsbury, 2018) and teaches at Grand Valley State University.