Publication Date: December 15, 2020 – Pre Order Today
In Roadworthy David Mehler offers the reader glimpses from a “hauling witness” about life and work on the open road, in poems that describe experiences in narrative and lyric about what it’s like being a long-haul truck driver in the US, and short line or regional driving in Colorado/Wyoming and the Pacific Northwest.
Stylistically, the poems range from ecstatic treatments in dense lyrical lines to prose poems, and even a couple that could be categorized as flash fiction. Many of the poems have oneiric, surreal qualities and a few recount actual dreams; others are cast in the form of dialogues within narratives. A series of conversations “transcribed” from CB talk between drivers is included. One poem asks, “What’s of more value: flowers or toilet paper?” Another features a driver so empathetic he feels himself transform into a caged chicken. Another describes a cursed, haunted trailer. In another a driver gets help unloading from someone who looks and talks a lot like Van Gogh.
Much of the life of a truck driver tends toward the repetitious and tedious, and therefore lends itself to a meditative and reflective interior life of the mind, especially if the driver also happens to be a poet or of a literary sensibility. Below the surface of the subject matter oftentimes questions are being posed of a spiritual or metaphysical nature: does mundane work matter and can it be meaningful; is beauty or practical necessity inherently more valuable; is care and attention better than expediency; does personal evil exist, and if so, how should we respond?
David Mehler’s poems act as a form of witness to life and a type of work which is at turns lonely, broken, comic or nightmarish, but never merely or truly ordinary. A reader may leave the book asking, “Did or could these poems have actually happened? Is this autobiography or fiction?” While the poems may be drawn from experience and offer eyewitness testimony does that mean they must be factual? It could be argued the factual amid the actual often gets distorted and even quite blurry at times. Witness the differing accounts in the Gospels. Distinguishing the actual from the factual is the tricky. I think it was David Foster Wallace’s sister who noted David was most truthful and autobiographical in his fiction, while being most fictional in his essays and journalism. Yes.