The taxi driver took us down
From great Mohonk, New Paltz and such;
And every mile we got to touch
We felt the pull of New York town.

And chatting in our easy way—
He black, me white, what difference then?
Only as humans, two grown men,
We both outlined our lives today.

What did it mean to be a Yank?
To be a Brit so far from home?
Each saw the other as his own:
Before God, true—there is no rank.

Then he expressed his great surprise:
I was the first Brit in his cab
He’d ever met, who’d ever had
Belief One strong upheld the skies.

 

 

James Sale, FRSA is a leading expert on motivation, and the creator and licensor of Motivational Maps worldwide. James has been writing poetry for over 40 years and has seven collections of poems published, including most recently, Inside the Whale, his metaphor for being in hospital and surviving cancer, which afflicted him in 2011. He can be found at www.jamessale.co.uk and contacted at james@motivational maps.com. He is the winner of First Prize in the Society’s 2017 Competition and Second Prize in the Society’s 2015 Competition.


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13 Responses

  1. Joseph S. Salemi

    A beautiful poem, James.

    But let me add one comment in old New York dialect:

    “Dat musta bin one helluva cab-fare from Mohonk-New Paltz down to Noo Yawk City, mack!”

    Reply
    • James Sale

      Thanks for your kind comment, Joe – beauty is what I always want. And, for the purposes of transparency, I ought to come clean and say we took a taxi from Mohonk to Poughkeepsie (about 20 miles) and from there the Amtrak train to NY City – so not quite as expensive as perhaps one may have inferred from the poem! But thanks for keeping an eye on my finances for me: much appreciated!

      Reply
  2. Theresa Rodriguez

    I enjoyed this poem very much, James. It was wonderful to meet you in New York!

    Reply
    • James Sale

      Thanks Theresa – and ditto – it was a remarkable day which will stay in my memory always. As well as being a very fine poet, you are great company!

      Reply
  3. C.B. Anderson

    Shame on me for having missed that event, but the logistical problems on my end were immense. Yes, that’s more an excuse than a reason, but June is a month in which I derive a good share of my annual income. You might ask me, should I not put poetry before solvency? It depends on the price of paper and typewriter ribbons.

    Reply
  4. James Sale

    We missed you CB – the cry went out, Where’s CB?, from 33rd Street down the echoing avenues till the sound finally petered out at Jackson Heights. All faces in the gloom looked lost in the greyness of the day; but then a taxi honked its horn and the NY Muse returned – a voice went up, followed by others, and that has made all the difference. Next time, then?

    Reply
  5. Sally Cook

    Dear James Sale,
    I am always glad to see your work, and this poem is no exception. I think what I like most about it is that you never neglect one aspect of the poem in addressing the others. Recently I was referred to an emerging poet, and told that this person was so good I wouldn’t mind the lack of rhyme.
    After reading the poem in question, this was my reaction:
    Concept, metaphor and simile were unusual. and the rhythm of the stanzas was satisfying.
    But I missed the rhyme. My initial reaction was, this was an emotional poem, with no attempt at all to construct its shape — something like the difference between a finely tailored jacket and a plastic poncho. Also, it did not have capital letters at the beginning of many lines, so I suspected it of being a short piece of prose sneaking in disguised as a poem. Needless to say, this took away from all its good qualities.
    My point in mentioning this is, thankfully, what I never see in your work.
    You respect the craft, and this, for me, is worth tons of the new and unusual’ And, shows me what kind of poet you are. Thanks for being that poet !

    Reply
  6. James Sale

    Dear Sally,
    Thank you so much – your words mean a lot to me. I would not want ever – consciously – to disrespect the craft of poetry, although I am sure I fail from time to time through some error of judgement, which tends to afflict all human beings, as I understand that Homer nodded, and Shakespeare should have blotted a thousand lines, so if we in contemporary times fail to make the grade sometimes, then one pleads mercy. But you are seriously right on several important points here, of which let me comment on one: namely, the intention. The purpose of poetry is not trying to be ‘unusual’, trying to be ‘new’, trying to be ‘clever’ in fact, and showing off just how good one – that is, one’s ego – is. On the contrary, as you make clear, the purpose is to pursue the art through discipline and imitation of the greats; and also, doing so whilst simultaneously hearkening to the voice of the Muse – she, sweet she – who visits the soul of every man and woman who opens their heart and is in the process of becoming truly alive. In this way we skip the rote, we miss the cliches, and we arrive at the point where the beauty of the cosmos is revealed in a snatch of words. O, that we could be forever in that state of listening to their Muse-ic! Of course, I appreciate your words because I know from having commented on your poetry before that you too are attentive to such voices. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Sally Cook

      Yes, James, but don’t ever make the mistake of assuming one of those automated car ladies is anywhere like the Muse, or you will shortly find yourself in a ditch!

      Thanks for your kind words.

      Reply
  7. Evan Mantyk

    Thank you for coming to New York, James! It was an honor to meet you in person. There is a touch of the epic in the poem, the great journey and the whispers in the wind of even greater forces at work.

    Reply
      • James Sale

        Yes, Sally, it is true to say that Evan is doing something – often thanklessly – of utmost importance. Indeed, it was my honour to meet Evan and his wife. Thanks for the kind comments, Evan – if there is even a whiff of ‘epic’ in my work, I shall be pleased, since it is the form of poetry that I admire and seek to emulate the most: the Muse Calliope (but ignoring the taxi of that name – on Sally’s wise advice).

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