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Gridlock Guy: A stab at traffic poetry to conclude this busy month

This column has gotten emotional and spiritual this month, as spring sinews into summer and Atlanta’s traffic patterns are really rush-hour Rorschach tests. The morning and afternoon drives, once very much accentuated from the other, now bleed together. That sets up just about the right imagery for the painful commutes most of us share.

With so many moving pieces on the Atlanta traffic-scape, a return to practicality in this space of prose is in order — but not this week. We must color outside of the lines once again, which more than likely is a subconscious emulation of how this metro area’s traffic behaves.

This week sees the end of National Poetry Month. So to stay thematically relevant, let’s celebrate, malign, mourn, chide, deride, mimic — and maybe even enjoy — our complicated journey on the streets of Metro Atlanta. Will this amateur poem feature Perimeter pentameter, crash-filled couplets, or maybe a sluggish sestina? Let’s keep adding sentences to the setup to shorten this painful attempt.

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One finds little refuge

In this mass of cars.

That pile in to every open space

Landing near and very far.

For every quixotic attempt

To scratch a way out

Is met with too many others lost

On your secret alternate route.

The Inner Loop is jammed,

Maybe head Downtown.

Seven lanes of relief on the Connector —

But a bus has broken down.

Why didn’t I know this?

Waze has failed me!

Stupid technology sent me out of my way.

Should have checked with WSB.

Patience left last half hour,

Hands clench the wheel.

How does 5 mph take this much energy?

We move and the tires squeal.

Finally passing the bus,

Off to the side, unloaded.

The pedal hits the mat, the race has begun.

All participants have emoted.

The horde gallops, flailing,

Trying to compose its fury.

Furious lane changes and brake checks

Signal everyone’s hurry.

Conflicting goals breed contempt.

Hasty, sweaty humans clash.

For their communal suffering for minutes on end

Has just bred the newest crash. 

» RELATED: Listen: Poetry in Atlanta shows another side of city culture

Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.

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