Traffic Jam



There’s a vendor in the center of the little strip of grass
selling photos of Toyotas going very very fast
and the lady on the radio is advertising yachts
to a place full of tasteful vacation spots
and I’ve cued up all my chewed-up inspirational cassettes
of perambulating mammals in the mountains of Tibet,
and they’ll find me steering blindly, unaware of where I am
if I ever get out this traffic jam

There’s a bottleneck of top execs and office personnel
who are all in buggies crawling through a sprawling roach motel
Now the vendor’s selling fenders to replace the ones we’ve crushed
because this is the rush hour and we feel rushed
in the overflow of Rovers, in the standstill of the Saabs,
we’re no longer late for work because by now we’ve lost our jobs,
and it’s possible my boss’ll have forgotten who I am,
if I ever get out this traffic jam

The car from Maine takes up seven lanes
Now here comes a crane to replace her
An autocrat with goggles and hat
Look out, Mama, here comes Speed Racer
at roughly the speed of a glacier

The commuter on the scooter with a motor for a brain
has an urgent need to merge into the No-Progressing-Lane
and the martyr in the Dart who looks like Sartre with a cramp
is maneuvering off the No Exit Ramp
we can never reach our destiny, it isn’t even ours
it’s an existential punishment where Hell is other cars
and the odds are even Kafka would be happy as a clam
if he ever got out of this traffic jam

It’d be a good idea if the sun was setting soon
we could monitor our progress by the phases of the moon
but the sun is stuck in traffic, and it hasn’t moved in days
through the heavy congested monoxide haze
it’s impossible to make out if the moon is in the sky
where the traffic helicopters are backed up a mile high
and the road contractor’s benefactors couldn’t give a damn
if we never get out of this traffic jam

The car behind is waving a sign
“Has there been some kind of collision?”
”Oh yeah — we’ve smacked right into the fact
that all our road tax goes to prisons”
“Well, they’d better build a really nice prison”
He says: “You think this isn’t?”

Time to honk if you’re sophisticated
Honk if you’re annoyed
Honk if everyone’s too noisy
Honk to fill the yawning void
Honk if horns are out to get you
Honk if you can’t hear this song
Honk if you suffer hearing loss
Honk Honk Honk

You can honk until you’re purple, I’m not gonna move ahead
I’ve been out of gas for hours and my battery is dead
as we hurtle like a turtle through the valley of the damned
and we’ll never get out of this traffic jam

Take an axe to every axle
Throw a brick on every brake
The invention of the engine was a miserable mistake
Every futile urban route’ll find us rooted to the spot
on an infinite interstate parking lot
Turn the Hondas into condos, let the auto ghetto thrive
Hacienda’s ’tween the fenders on the former highway five
If you guess my new address then you can write or telegram
since we never got out of this traffic jam
You can find me in the shiny metal housing program
which is what we got out of this traffic jam

Come and visit where I live, it’s twenty minutes on the tram
since I never got out of this traffic jam