the personal license plate

I’ve been driving   the freeways for decades
and if you want to know what your neighbor
looks like
inside
just drive the freeways
on any given day
and be prepared for a petty
horror story
of so many unhappy lives
exhibiting as they drive–
minor stupidities and major
angers,
cheap vengeful ploys,
but enough of
that–
I speak here of personal license
plates
and I suppose I’ve seen
thousands,
mostly all of them rather
vain and vapid,
dull and dumb,
but
there were two exceptions:
one day I saw one:
it said:
“MRS. L.A.”
now, having lived in L.A. since
1923
I had to have a look at
that
and as I   swung around and
pulled up
to have a look
I was already grinning
but when I saw her
I didn’t laugh
for it was MRS. L.A.
and that’s all I can
say…

the other, and far more
astonishing…
was when I was following this
very old car and noticed the
personal license plate:
it said “WIND”
and the exhaust was
giving forth a mass of
poisonous bluegrey smoke,
and as I pulled around and
gained upon him
(an easy matter)
I noted the dangling
fenders
the masses of dents
upon the body
the paint job
long vanished
and here sat a
young Mexican man
just holding the wheel and
staring straight
ahead

it was no joke
there he was
just like
that

I made no sign to
him,
looked forward,
pulled away…

we can be so
great
and
should
be
with a majesty that can
rise like
that,
bountiful beyond the
odds,
there’s time enough to
feel good
at
moments.

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