Cruising down an LA freeway, hustling for a little leeway
Passing many a rusted relic from Detroit’s Plutonian shore.
Hoping all would turn to see me, knowing all would want to be me
Driving in my Beemer dreamy-eyed, contented to my core.
With my canvas top popped open and my pedal to the floor
Racing down 134.

Halted by a sludge of traffic, I hurled aloud my scorn so graphic
That my catcalls pornographic seared the ears off all who heard.
So I sat there in my Beemer snarling at each Stanley Steamer,
A howling, growling, foul blasphemer screaming out each cursing word.
Showing all the world my anguish at my being thus detoured.
Flipping them the stately bird.

Presently the road grew fumy, a fog inside my head grew gloomy
Hearing sounds I cried, “What? Who me?” then I searched to find their source.
A moment past then one more after, soon inside my head grew laughter
Set there by some unseen crafter, crafted by an unknown force.
With my eyes teared I found I feared my mind’s own hemispheres’ divorce.
Trapped alone without recourse.

All the while the jam amassing, no one passed and no one passing,
Prodded by the laugh’s harassing, I bared my full ass to the world.
Hoping then no thug had spied me, praying that my shades would hide me,
When vaulting to the seat beside me appeared a giggling Valley girl.
With her golden hair in braids and a nose ring made of pearl
Her mere presence made me hurl.

Without consent or explanation, she then changed the music station
To some metaled desecration that seemed to drill into my bones.
And her eyes a tale related of an airhead uninflated.
Weary now, exasperated, I cried aloud, “Leave me alone!
Get thee to some Galleria or infernal parts unknown!
And keep thy hands off my cell phone!”

My anger out I turned to musing, “Tell me New Age yogurt-using
Zen-attendant art thou choosing to sojourn here with me forever?
From the powers that thou believe in, read me from thy herbal tea leaves
When shall I at last be relieved, released from this vain endeavor?
When shall this here jam be lifted? Tell me something sassy, clever!”
Quoth the Valley Girl, “Whatever.”

“Princess, thou of bands metallic! Be thee wise or just wise-aleck.
Whatever! is that symbolic? Or dost thou think it may be clever?
Be thee New Age, be thee sewage, or some flashback from bad brewage,
What is true is thou art due a just adjustment to dissever
Thy mocking tongue from out thy mouth. Cease thy lying speech forever!”
Quoth the Valley Girl, “Whatever.”

“Listen sandy-blond that silted, the fronds inside thy head are wilted!
Thou art a pinball that has tilted, loosing all its gears and levers.
Flee me now my foul companion! Get thee back to Laurel Canyon!
Demon spawn with yogurt Dannon, fly thee hence from here forever!
Get thy seat from off my seat and from my soul thy stare dissever.”
Quoth the Valley Girl: “Whatever!”

With all the horns of hell now beeping, still the cars their stations keeping
Like hungry leopards poised for leaping, ever restless, moving never.
So I sit and steam and bridle, as my thoughts turn suicidal
Stuck there with my car in idle, yet I press the gas to rev her.
Held captive by that fair-haired demon, trapped inside her dark endeavor.
Quoth the Valley Girl, “Whatever.”

 

 

Martin Hill Ortiz is a researcher and professor at the Ponce University of Health Sciences in Ponce, PR where he lives with his wife and son. He has three novels published by small presses: A Predatory Mind (Loose Leaves Publishing, 2013),  Never Kill A Friend, (Ransom Note Press, 2015), and A Predator’s Game (Rook’s Page, 2016). 


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10 Responses

  1. Joseph S. Salemi

    A really clever piece — Poe would have loved it.

    Those brainless California Valley Girls need this kind of take-down.

    Reply
  2. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    You’ve obviously put a lot of effort into this Poe pastiche. It’s quirky, clever, and highly entertaining – a lovely, poetic distraction from these tough times. Thank you!

    Reply
  3. C.B. Anderson

    This poem, with its unabashedly reduplicated rhymes, was over-the-top funny. Whatever. It reminds me of that Michael Douglas film, the title of which I can’t quite remember. I just looked it up. It’s called FALLING DOWN.

    Reply
    • Martin Hill Ortiz

      I’m not sure why it reminded you of Falling Down. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, but did it have comic overtones?

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        No, M.H., it wasn’t funny. But it adequately described road rage.

  4. Martin Hill Ortiz

    Thanks. I wrote this twenty-years ago back when “valley girl” was a bigger item. Never found a place to publish it before now. Thanks, Evan. Stay safe.

    I believe for writing faux-Poe, the internal rhyming structure is the key as that is what made “The Raven” so deliriously enjoyable.

    Reply
  5. Monty

    That was a good idea for a poem, Martin: quite a novel concept. It’s also a valiant attempt at what is obviously a really exacting form of poetry (the ‘Raven form’, if you like). And some of your triple-rhymes are real captures: amassing/passing/harassing; silted/wilted/tilted; and my favourite, fumy/gloomy/who me.

    I noted your above remark that you wrote the piece 20 years ago. Given that, since then, you’ve obviously gained 20 year’s more knowledge and experience of constructing poetry, I can’t help feeling that you might’ve felt inclined to give ‘The Valley’ a bit of a brush-up. Like I said, it’s a valiant effort, but it could be a mini-masterpiece with a bit of tweaking. I know that meter’s not everything in poetry, and is thus optional, but I feel that poems in the ‘Raven form’ should always adhere strictly to meter and syntax in order to make the internal rhymes work optimally. When done this way, such poems can become instantly musical. For example, take ‘The Raven’ itself . . . if, just before reading it, one was to compose a simple little melody in their head, and then read the poem from start to finish in that same tune, they wouldn’t once deviate from the melody (the British poet/singer/songwriter Ian Dury – who had a worldwide hit in ‘79 with ‘Hit Me with your Rhythm Stick – used to write and sing some of his songs in a Raven style). But if one tried the same practise with ‘The Valley’, it wouldn’t work in the same way.

    I feel there are also a few other small examples of how it could’ve done with a brush-up:
    S1L2.. In keeping with the Raven’s scheme, the word ‘relic’ should be replaced with a word which rhymes with ‘freeway/leeway’.
    S2L6.. I don’t know how you use the word ‘flipping’ on your side of the pond, but I didn’t understand the line: “Flipping them the stately bird”.
    S3L3.. ‘past’ should be ‘passed’.
    S3L5.. ‘I found I feared’ sounds awkward, and could be better written as ‘I found that I feared..’
    S4L1.. Either “no one passed” or “no one passing” is redundant, ‘coz they mean the same thing, just in different tenses. It might be better to change the two uses of “one” to “one’s”, as in:
    No one’s passed and no one’s passing.
    S7L4.. “due a” should be replaced with a word which rhymes with ‘sewage/brewage. I realise you’ve tried to use the ‘j’ in ‘just’ to make “due a j(ust) sound like ‘dewage’, but it’s too much of a stretch.
    S8L2.. Did you intend “loosing”, or should it be ‘losing’?

    D’you see what I’m saying, Martin? Just a few little blips. Who knows what a brush-up might’ve achieved? It’s got the makings of a high-class poem.

    Reply
  6. Martin Hill Ortiz

    Thanks for the detailed feedback.
    Some of your advice will be incorporated.
    That middle rhyme in the second line is optional in “The Raven,” in fact, it only appears as a perfect rhyme in the second verse.

    Compare the opening of the second verse:

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
    And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.

    to that of the third (and for that matter, most)
    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
    Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

    Even the first verse off-rhymes curious with weary and dreary.

    I disagree regarding no one passed and no one passing being the same. He has not passed anyone and no one has passed him.
    Flipping the bird means presenting the middle finger. The stately bird because Poe’s raven was thus described.
    I disagree that “due a j(ust)” is stretching the rhyme too much. It is intentionally over the top.
    “Loosing” was intended.

    Again, thanks.

    Reply
    • Monty

      Regarding S1L2.. Please accept my apologies, Martin. Not only am I wrong, but it was patently lazy of me not to’ve checked with The Raven itself before flinging a critique at you; and highly presumptuous of me to assume that I remembered The Raven well enough to hurl said critique. If I may offer a few words of mitigation . . . The 2nd stanza of The Raven has long been one of my favourite stanzas in the whole of poetry (the very first time I saw it was like a mild sexual climax), and as such, it’s the only stanza in the whole poem that I can quote unhesitatingly word for word. Thus, knowing for sure that Poe employed a triple rhyme in the first two lines, I carelessly assumed that he’d done the same with the first two lines of EVERY stanza. But now I’ve referred to the The Raven, I can see that not only is this not the case, but the 2nd stanza is indeed the ONLY stanza in the whole poem to employ a triple-rhyme in the first two lines! What do I know? And now I can see it, I’m off on a different train of thought: Why did Poe choose only that one stanza for the triple-rhyme? Answers on a postcard please . .

      S4L1.. I had no idea that you intended “no one passed” to read as ‘he hasn’t passed anyone yet’. I would imagine that most people, as I did, would take “no one passed” to mean ‘no one had yet passed him’. That’s why I felt that “no one passed” and “no one passing” was conveying the same thing. Now I know how you intended “no one passed” to be read, I can only ask you to consider the sheer ambiguity of those three words.

      S2L6.. As I suspected, I was unaware that ‘flipping the bird’ was an actual term (they don’t do the ‘middle-finger’ thing in Britain). Now I know its meaning, I can see that it was very imaginative of you to insert the word ‘stately’.

      S7L4.. I’ve grown to become a little bit stubborn in middle-age, Martin (57). Not to a fault, nowhere near . . but some things that I once would’ve dismissed or conceded ‘coz I just couldn’t be bothered, I now find myself digging my heels in over: and I must dig my heels in over your attempted rhyme. It’ll always remain too much of a stretch for me.

      S8L2.. I suspected all along that you intended “loosing”; I was just struggling to relate that word to “all its gears and levers”. But I think I can now do so. I also had in mind that just last week, a regular contributor to these pages wrote the word ‘loosing’ in a comment, and after being questioned he admitted it should’ve been ‘losing’.

      May I again congratulate Edgar Allan Ortiz on The Valley.

      Reply

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