Roadworthy

(8 reviews)

$14.99

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.

SKU: 978-1-951547-12-7 Category: Tag:

Additional information

Publication Date

December 15, 2020

Format

Perfect Paperback

ISBN

978-1-951547-12-7

Length

100 pages

Trim

5.5 x 8.5 inches

8 reviews for Roadworthy

  1. Avatar

    Kim Stafford — author of “Wild Honey,” “Tough Salt”

    These poems drive your mind through blue-collar ventures unaccustomed to literary affection—the world of long-haul trucks bringing shrink-wrapped loads of mystery along difficult roads to deliver the true texture of working experience. Here are revelations from the road, from long night runs, from alley dramas behind the Dollar Store. The poet reports on smoke breaks, road kills, Van Gogh as a working temp, the quick architecture of stacked pallets, bad jokes, poverty, commerce, trusty friends, jailings, firings, early snow and endless maintenance—all in a dense poetic line, “a driven necessity badgering the mind.” You will emerge from this book deeper in experience, and eager to speak the poetry of working life: “the trannies then were geared so low you could pull the pass in first and never spin a wheel.”

  2. Avatar

    Geronimo Tagatac — author of _The Weight of the Sun, and Other Stories_

    David Mehler has produced a collection of poems illuminating a world that most people see only in passing. His rich, multi-layered pieces reveal the world of those whose lives are lived on our road, highways, and truck stops. Mehler’s poems deserve to be read and reread.

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    David Memmott — author of _The Larger Earth_ and _Lost Transmissions_

    In Roadworthy, David Mehler takes the reader like precious cargo cross country from loading dock to loading dock. He reminds me that truck drivers are my brothers—the human element in the supply train keeps the nation running for the long haul.

  4. Avatar

    Keith Hansen — H&H Drywall

    For any of us who have spent long stretches of time working at a tedious or repetitive job, it can be tempting to adopt the opening line from Berryman’s “Dreamsong 14” as an attitude, a way of being in one’s world: “Life, friends, is boring.” We plod along, head down, eyes blinkered, mind numbed. Mehler doesn’t settle for this, heeding instead the advice of the wizened, crafty, old, truck driving sage in Ode to G.D. Winter: “’Remember, son—be attentive.’” And, attentive he is, taking the reader, Sam Spade-like, through a twilit world that many of us, whether we shop at the Dollar Tree or Whole Foods, know little about and think of rarely. Whether it’s a haunted semi trailer, a Van Gogh doppelganger, the vagaries of road conditions and other drivers, or the constant specter of mechanical failure, there’s always an ambient sense of threat or dismay present, and no detail escapes the poet’s eye.

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    Gina Ochsner — author of _The Hidden Letters of Velta B._ and _The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight_

    Roadworthy represents an utterly unique lyric register built on an unerring sense of rhythm, speed and sound. In these psalms of the road, Mehler hits raw and wild chords, unlocking a hurting music we didn’t know we needed so badly to hear.

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    Charles Hood — winner of the Felix Pollak Poetry, the Kenneth Patchen Prize, and the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize

    In this book the sublime stays up all night drinking truck stop coffee, hoping to make it to the state line before sunrise. On each page, language and experience dance their inextricable dance, much to our pleasure and wisdom. Dollar Tree forever.

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    Paul J. Willis — author of _Deer at Twilight: Poems from the North Cascades_

    In Roadworthy, David Mehler lets his many years as a truck driver roll fiercely across the page. In poems that double-clutch between a tender lyricism and a fire-hosed physicality, he brings you into the cab, over the pass, and right up to the loading dock. Mehler knows this work-grimed world and its many strange characters—and lets them sing in their own tongue, rough and sweet.

  8. Avatar

    Zeke Sanchez

    Dave is a good writer, a good poet. By this I mean that he is technically good. His material reads as well as any great Hemingway prose. Hemingway’s best prose reads like very good poetry. Dave’s poetry is drier, more arid, somehow closer to what life is really about. Hemingway is great, but he can be pretentious. He is a grand man, and often speaks as a grand writer. Dave, however, chooses the real life of a long-haul truck driver and chooses to write about the characters who were not at the gates of hell. His characters are neither Captains of Industry nor war heroes. Or as T.S. Eliot would say in “Gerontion”:

    “I was neither at the hot gates
    Nor fought in the warm rain”

    No grand cannonade in the neighboring forest of oak. Instead it is stories of people struggling with a real life of sequential cigarette breaks between stretches with a hand truck, a forklift or lifting with their arms and backs.

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