Paul Smith: “One Tank of Gas”

One Tank of Gas

It’s good to go from west to east
you’ll get there earlier
than you think
you’re going opposite the earth’s spin
and that makes your airplane
go faster
Galileo and Ptolemy figured this out
even before there were airplanes
it’s even good to go from east to west
because the sun is at your back
you’re like Paul
singing ‘I’ll Follow The Sun’
it’s not so good going from south to north
because the people you meet up there are
as cold as the land they live in
they look at you funny and
make you feel small
if you go from north to south
it’s a recipe for heartburn
the people down there fry nearly everything they eat
plus hominy grits
biscuits and gravy
if you’re from the North and
you drive from east to west
it’s a good thing
because you’ll enjoy
gaining an hour
and with all you have to do
if you’re from the South and
you drive from east to west
it is inherently bad
you say to yourself
‘I’ve lost an hour
and I’ll never get it back’
because the little hand
just went from seven to six
an hour you earned
through your own sweat
someone just took your entitlement away
so now you are sad
and a little angry
at all those who ever hurt you
it makes you wistful
wishing for that hour
taken from your sovereign grasp
the only good thing is
there is an aeroplane overhead
going east to west
that you imagine is full of them
all snobbish flying first class
and maybe
just maybe
it might
in spite
of what Bernoulli said
or Nostradamus
or the Old Farmers Almanac
just go flat like
a hushpuppy made without Bisquick


Paul Smith is a civil engineer who has worked in the construction racket for many years. He has traveled all over the place and met lots of people. Some have enriched his life. Others made him wish he or they were all dead. He likes writing poetry and fiction. He also likes Newcastle Brown Ale. If you see him, buy him one. His poetry and fiction have been published in Convergence, Missouri Review, Literary Orphans, and other lit mags.

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