939: A Guy in a Black SUV

939: A Guy in a Black SUV

939: A Guy in a Black SUV


I’m Major Jackson and this is The Slowdown.

As the third string point guard on the St. Elizabeth’s Elementary basketball team, I sat on the bench for almost all four quarters for most of the games. This gave me a lot of time to imagine myself in a game, or to think what I would do if the ball were passed to me. While the action was in play, guys zigzagging and setting up for the next shot, I pictured myself stealing the ball from an opponent, then dribbling the full length of the court as I whizzed past defenders to then leap from the top of the key to the hoop for a monster slam dunk — all of this impossible because in sixth grade I was only 5’2”.

My rich fantasy life, or what some call daydreaming, was the crux of my private entertainment — how I used time. As a teenager, I transported myself to Wimbledon for tennis matches against John McEnroe and to the Autobahn for a test run of a luxury car not yet on the market. Driving alongside a mountain during a family vacation, I’d see a hairy, mythic Giant approach a ridge and step over as though it were a fence, one foot at a time, and walk towards the car.

Living in my head was a training ground for writing poetry. My leaps to fantasyland were never elaborate or driven by a need to escape daily life; I simply thought in 3-D, so to speak. What I most wanted or what I longed to understand in theory, I made it appear mentally. It was real to me.

Maybe due to aging, or increased responsibilities and worries, eventually, the little movies that would suddenly play in my mind became rare. Hours of conjuring unreal scenes and situations fell away along with vivid dreams and déjà vu. But happily, I retained the accompanying ability to create thought experiments.

Today’s poem, through use of hyperbole, voice, and tone, arrives at visualization as a form of retribution. Its strong cinematic action subverts and upends gender norms. The poem reminds me how we stretch our minds to manifest feelings and unknown states within—a power that affords us catharsis.

A Guy in a Black SUV
by William J. Harris

As I slowly inch toward the toll booth
A guy in a black SUV
In front of me

Pretends I’m not there
Simply edges forward
In his massive black machine

I mutter but I do nothing

If this guy had done
To my mother

She would
Without a second’s hesitation
Slam her car into his

Leap out 
Of hers

Smash his windshield
With a crow bar
While swearing at him
Like a wild woman

And as the guy would 
Jump out of his vehicle
Running toward her
“Are you crazy?”
She would swiftly kick him in the nuts

And as he would crumble to the ground
Holding his privates
(This magnificent fury
Beyond his comprehension)

He would simply reiterate “Are
You crazy?”

What a woman

"A Guy in a Black SUV" by William J. Harris. Used by permission of the poet.