Poem-A-Day Challenge: Day 19

April is National Poetry Month so I’m tackling the Writer’s Digest 2019 April PAD Challenge hosted by Robert Lee Brewer.

Today’s prompt: Write a license poem. There are many different licenses available to people. Fishing license, driver’s license, license to plate, license to kill, and marriage license. Poem doesn’t have to be about the license, but it could mention a license, happen at a licensing office, or well, use your poetic license.

Photo by Ryan Graybill / Unsplash

Photo by Ryan Graybill / Unsplash


A few miles from our church’s deserted parking lot,
where the Mississippi veers sharply west,
carving a flat underside to the knobby nose along Iowa’s eastern profile,
I slide behind the steering wheel of my mom’s black wagon in the lot’s back corner.
Early summer sun dapples the asphalt through vigilant trees.
I have no interest in this glinting light, or in the church roof’s steep midcentury slant.
I am fifteen and omniscient, brimming with rules of the road,
ready to join the traffic’s busy fray.
With a confidence swollen into arrogance,
I can already feel myself coasting freely down the sloped drive,
a casual hand flicking on the radio while I merge smooth and easy onto Middle Road,
one at last with the grown-up throng.

But I am not there yet, must still hide myself
behind this veneer of patience
until I’ve received the words I know Mom
has been waiting to say.
I clench the steering wheel and grit my teeth,
waiting for the sweet rush of sentiment,
certain there will be some jubilant proclamation,
a heartfelt toast to this momentous occasion,
some message of pride mingled with bittersweet joy.
Silently I sit, waiting
as she draws a deep breath, then speaks,
her voice firm and clear:
you are driving a
murder weapon.”

How could I forget that lace blanket of light falling heavy over the still, grave hood.