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poetry Driving Theory

The poet Andrew Hemmert finds himself “stationary and in a state of undress/ like a fountain statue” caught in a mess of environmental distress. How can a person move through this muddled world?


Driving Theory

By Andrew Hemmert

What I thought was the squeaking of the season’s first bats

was just a rust-gut van idling outside the store.

What I thought was the future was just more of the same.

Constantly I feel stationary and in a state of undress

like a fountain statue, keeping watch over nothing

but a hoard of coins I can’t touch. What was it I wanted,

dirty water full of presidents flattened in profile?

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If I am free to leave, then why this net of contrails

and powerplant exhaust? Why this list of beached whales,

and our need to name a thing even as it disappears?

Inside each whale is shopping carts, bales of fishing line,

an entire McDonald’s play place worth of plastic.

Inside my wallet is a license that says I have learned

how to move through the world without letting it touch me.

Andrew Hemmert is the author of Sawgrass Sky ( His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various magazines including The Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Review. He won the 2018 River Styx International Poetry Contest. He earned his MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and currently serves as a poetry editor for Driftwood Press.