Definition

One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the autocrats among us can be “literalists of the imagination”—above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Personal Challenge - Mary Mansfield


Being a new member at Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, I’ve fully been expecting to be tapped for a personal challenge, cringing inwardly a bit at the prospect of possibly being asked for a sonnet or villanelle (iambic pentameter is truly my poetic kryptonite.)

Sure enough, Kay Davies has passed the challenge baton to me with the following idea:  “I know you enjoy car races and also karaoke, so I have this off-the-wall (not really, we hope) idea for a poem from the point of view of a race-car driver who is thinking about the evening's karaoke instead of the afternoon's race.”

Wow…definitely not the challenge I expected.  Kay was right though, I do love my NASCAR and I love karaoke, and a chance to veer away from my the normal doom and gloom that seems to punctuate my writing is always welcome.

Two images immediately came to mind when I began thinking about this poem.  This first was a commercial that has been shown often this racing season, with a driver actually singing karaoke in his car, mirrored ball and all.



The second was of my husband singing what has turned out to be his signature karaoke song; there’s just something inherently hilarious about a big, burly man with a beard singing “Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears. (I would insert a video here of him performing that particular tune, but mysteriously my camera seems to disappear every time he's set to begin.)

So here is my response to Kay’s inventive challenge. I’m not entirely sure I’m finished tweaking and expanding on this theme quite yet, but it has been a lot of fun to work on.  Thanks so much, Kay!

NASCAR by Todd Ellis
photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net


Driven to Perform

It’s a muggy summer morning
And the fans have filled the stands,
Anticipation building 
As they await the start command.

Would-be heroes of the asphalt
Are now strapping in their cars,
To fire up those engines
And go racing toward the stars.

The drivers are all focused
On the massive task ahead,
Except for one, whose thoughts trail off
To his post-race plans instead.

The freedom that he finds in speed
Sure makes his soul take flight,
But he finds the same wild feeling
On the stage at karaoke night.

He channels thundering metal
On the track and at the shop,
But when he’s got the microphone
It’s strictly girly pop.

Mariah, Whitney, Katy,
Man, that boy can sing it all;
In a smoky bar or Victory Lane
You’ll find him standing tall. 

We know the boy’s got talent,
He can drive like Dale or Jimmie,
But he loves to belt out Winehouse 
With an extra shake and shimmy.

So when the green flag flies
He drops the pedal to the floor.
The end of that first lap
Will find them racing door-to-door.

Lap by lap the miles race by
At a frenetic pace.
He drives his crew chief crazy
While he’s humming “Poker Face.”

By the time the race is over
And he sees the checkers fly,
He’s energized to go and chase
His karaoke high.

It’s just two sides of the same coin,
You can’t tear his worlds apart,
‘Cause he’s got motor oil in his blood
And music in his heart.

16 comments:

Mary said...

I really enjoyed this, Mary! You have created quite a diverse character here. I love the rhythm and rhyme as well. My favorite lines are

'Cause he's got motor oil in his blood
and music in his heart.

Grace said...

I like the rush of adrenalin in racing the car and singing after ~
Nice painting of the man who:
‘Cause he’s got motor oil in his blood And music in his heart.

Enjoyed this Mary ~

Margaret said...

Well, one would never guess you like to write doom and gloom. This is so fun and left a smile on my face. (hope you find that video camera soon :)

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I absolutely ADORE this humorous challenge and the resulting poem. Such cool mental images - especially of your husband doing Britney Spears. Now THAT I would LOVE to see. Could you put your camera somewhere a bit out of the way, so you can grab it next time he performs? Honestly, he sounds adorable. I loved the motor oil in his blood and music in his heart. This was just wonderful to read. I enjoyed it so much!!!!!!

Kerry O'Connor said...

I think you have responded to this challenge in spectacular style, Mary. I thought your use of rhyme impeccable, and it definitely adds to the sing-song rhythm so in keeping with your theme. The story held up from beginning to end. A round of applause.

Mary Mansfield said...

Thank you all so much! I have to admit, one of my favorite parts of writing this poem was all the "research" I did watching old race footage on Youtube (at least that's the story I'm sticking to!) I'm hoping to sneak in a video of my husband singing this weekend while we're at a Halloween party, if I get the footage I'll be sure to post it on my blog.

Patricia Anne McGoldrick said...

Mary, Not into NASCAR, but the poem works so well to convey the event.
Like the last two lines, they work like a song--I can hear a future country tune in them!

Kay L. Davies said...

Wahoo! We did it!
Wow, Mary, you rocked this challenge. You might never write doom and gloom again, LOL.
I can just hear this poem being sung by someone like the late, great Jim Croce, who sang "Roller Derby Queen" and "Workin' at the Carwash Blues" as well as "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown."
I think he'd have loved this:
"He channels thundering metal
On the track and at the shop,
But when he’s got the microphone
It’s strictly girly pop."
Three cheers for you, Mary. I love the way it turned out, and I know you were busy elsewhere during the writing. Looking forward to the video if you get it.
Hugs, K

Mama Zen said...

This is fabulous!

hedgewitch said...

Well you certainly can't say our challenees here at toads lack originality. It's really wonderful to see what our members come up with. I love the image of a big brawny guy with grease on his hands singing girly songs! Lots of fun here, ladies. Thanks to you both.

hedgewitch said...

ummm--CHALLENGES, not whatever that other thing was I wrote.

Susie Clevenger said...

I love this! This was so much fun. My husband loves NASCAR so I need to make sure he reads it! This group is made up of some really talented toads!

Susan said...


"He channels thundering metal
On the track and at the shop,
But when he’s got the microphone
It’s strictly girly pop."

I believe You can SELL this song for lots of $$ if you wish. More power to the music and fun in you!

Helen said...

One word ~~ DELIGHTFUL!!!!

Herotomost said...

Amazing job....that would have been a hard challenge for me because its so specific. You handled it perfectly...Bravo.

Marian said...

omg, the girly pop! this is hilarious and i really wanna hear your duet with your old man. :)