Mario Kart 64 simulation of a joyride on the Los Angeles freeway by Tom Kelly

by JHow on February 20, 2018

in Announcements, Bonus Content, Fiction, Shorts

Freeway Lights, Through Chainlink

Photo by Scott Hart

Editorial intern Nick Hansen on today’s bonus short: Tom Kelly’s commentary on societal trends and his zany portrayal of everyday life draw the reader into a wonderfully anarchic world in this prose poem complete with banana peels, turtle shells, and power-granting cartoon stars.

Mario Kart 64 simulation of a joyride on the Los Angeles freeway

My go-kart glides beneath a big rig, zig-zags banana peels sprinkled along the carpool lane, zooms past Danny Devito doppelgangers in limousines, a woman on a Vespa flinging her feathered scarf. I hug the hairpin bend & perform stunts to shake turtle shells trailing my rear like a celestial tail. When my bumper bashes the barricade & wedges me in the digital trench, you swoop ahead faster than the Road Runner & I pretend to blow sassy smooches but can’t rip my hands off the wheel. I’d like to ask if you’re saddled with similar setbacks: the world apprehended as a highway slideshow, the dubious existence of feet. My Littlest Deuce Coupe shotguns onto the pavement & an electric star spanks its taillights. More radiant than a game show host dunked in a glittery whirlpool, I whip within earshot & deliberate icebreakers: excuse me, we haven’t met but the back of your head caught my eye; is your ride fuel-efficient, too? We juggle the lead like ponies primed for a photo finish. Our chemistry’s palpable, near Newtonian, though my neck won’t crane to capture your attention. My sparkle-power fades & I spin-out like a basketball twirling on a Harlem Globetrotter’s finger. I steer for a shortcut to bridge our distance & swerve off the edge of the track.

Tom Kelly is a first-year creative writing doctoral student at Florida State University. He earned an MFA in creative writing from Old Dominion University, and his poems appear in The Southeast Review, Barrelhouse, Painted Bride Quarterly, Gulf Stream, Permafrost, decomP, and other journals. Follow him on Twitter @tomvkelly.

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