Inside every driver who loves to get behind the wheel is a poet waiting to get out. And that's what I'm here for.
Multiple readers channeled their inner Shakespeare to respond to a call for transportation poems this spring. Haikus, blank verse, sonnets ... you name it. Today, I'm proud to announce the first (and maybe annual) In Transit Poetry Slam.
Contact information ( * required )
Gas prices fallingFinally, a little relief at the pump. AAA reports prices for a gallon of regular fuel dipped by about 18 cents in May from April levels. The average per gallon cost in Illinois was a painful $3.91, but still better than May 2011 when fuel was 28 cents higher. In the metro region, McHenry County had the lowest rates, averaging $3.99 a gallon in May -- not great, but better than Cook County's $4.20 cost.
You be the judge. Peruse the 13 entries and email your choice for the winner to
1. "Computer on Wheels"
"My car is just loaded with new innovations,
It's exciting but I'm filled with many frustrations.
If I'm lost, I'll need OnStar, but which button to press?
By the time I find out, I'll make a big mess.
Bluetooth is hooked up to answer my phone,
No privacy here when I'm not alone.
People are texting but what can I do,
As I try to juggle a burger or two.
My eyes on the road, that's where they should be,
Computerized cars are not for me!"
-- Eileen Valek, Roselle
2. "Watchful eye"
"As all the speeding cars rush past,
I wonder where their tanks are gassed.
So many turn without a signal --
Who's there to give the cops a jingle?
And as the lady combs her hair,
The turn lane's shut -- no room to spare.
So in this age of careless speed,
A doubly watchful eye we need."
-- S.M. King, Lake Zurich
3. "The Open Road"
"If I can pass this next car, I'll be in front of the line.
If I just make this next light, the open road is mine.
I know I'm making real good time, I've never gone this fast!
I must have knocked two minutes off my travel times of past.
These are the thoughts I used to have as I traveled in my car.
Those precious minutes that I saved, never really got me far.
Sure I was the first one to arrive there with a smile.
But let me tell you what I missed, mile after anxious mile.
I spent a good percentage of my life behind the wheel.
Never knowing what I missed, or how it'd make me feel.
I still get where I'm going, at peace at what I see.
Other times I'm laughing, at how I used to be.
I've slowed it down, I look around, I take my precious time.
I have my patience and my health. The open road is mine."
-- John Papeck
4. "Country Road"
"I was on my way home ... there was traffic ahead,
I turned right around, and took the long road instead.
It's an old country road, with trees all around,
Old barns and cattle, and even deer to be found.
It's a long way to travel, but surely worth while,
I'll be late getting home ... but I'll arrive with a smile."
-- Burton Bestler, Wheaton
5. "Three For The Road"
"When I think of our cars
I remember so well,
Our first station wagon
Had a story to tell.
We had started a family,
A baby was due,
Only our little bundle
Turned out to be two.
We had precious cargo
Who now are all grown.
And I miss that old wagon
We don't need to own."
-- Mary Bostrand, Schaumburg
6. "Road to adventure"
"Buckle up to excitement
Light the road to adventure
Travel a route to the pace of your heartbeat
Cruise the melody of smooth pavement
Comfort, power, safety at your command
Day, month, year no matter ...
The sights are always memorable!"
-- Randy Gollayn, Buffalo Grove
7. "Watch Out!"
"While driving in my minivan just the other day,
I spotted a young girl going on her merry way.
She paused at the stoplight and with a tiny wand,
She touched up her mascara and put her lipstick on.
I questioned at that moment the distractions that we know,
The kids today all texting and talking on the phone.
Now, it's not just makeup or glancing at a map,
Today it seems more dangerous ... is there an 'app' for that?
Well, that girl I saw reached over as if to scratch her leg,
And sat up with her breakfast plate ... a mound of scrambled eggs!
I shook my head in disbelief and then began to pray,
Because my son just turned 16 ...
And he hits the road today!"
-- Nancy Smearman, Palatine
"Cruising in my Jag
Checking the speedometer
-- Elaine Burnette, Algonquin
9. "Valentine's Day"
"On this day, let me review affairs of the heart. In threescore years, I've had a few.
When your breath comes in short strokes and your mind turns over and over.
Ah the '50s, the beat was strong and my blood ran hot.
You were my muscle man, loud and fast. First loves are remembered, but do not last.
In the '60s, you roared into Chicago. A new breed, for Friday nights.
Just enough of a line to make you respectable, but too hot for summer.
The British came: the Beatles, the Avengers, and of course Bond, James Bond.
I had my own English gentleman, sleek and polished.
The '70s, had signs of PEACE. You were small, so clean and humble.
Eighties came and things got tough. But you could turn work off the beaten track to fun.
Finally the day came, I needed room, It was time to make the big scary move.
But I fell in love again, with a very respectable silver-maned Ford Taurus.
Goodbye, my loves: '51 Mercury, '65 Mustang, '67 Austin Healy, '74 VW Beetle, '85 Nissan Truck.
On a really hot day I'll crank up the AC, pop in a CD, and cruise the open road in comfort."
-- Nancy J. Heggem, Palatine
10. "Secure Policies"
"Driving Down the Road
Living Life Free
Loving the open road.
Windows down, a Breeze
Playing Great Tunes
Loving the open road
Focus on the drive
Getting into the mode
Not a care in the world
I'm covered by policies
Safe and Secure
No Auto Liabilities"
-- Mark Batinich
"Thought I would drive downtown to the Loop,
But arrival is a real news scoop.
The traffic in town,
makes us all bow down.
Calling me a complete nincompoop."
-- Laird Palmer, Arlington Heights
12. "Cruisin' Classics"
"When I was young and cruised around
I was amazed of places I ventured out and found
Cruised the highways, cruised the streets
Went on road trips I couldn't believe
Piling all in, heading for open road
Down any highway in a car the size of a boat
Whether, big, small, or one to race
All that mattered were tunes on an 8-track tape
Things were different then, even the safety belt
Didn't need to text a friend, 'cuz there was no such thing as a cell
Now that I am older, one thing remains the same
Still like my tunes on an open road and nothing in my way."
-- Carole Direnzo
13. "And I was looking forward to a great summer vacation"
"Wise up, 16 and older. THINK, do you want your life to be over?
Lying in dirt, and covered with clover.
So listen up, young and raring to go,
KEEP YOU MIND ON ALERT, eyes side and ahead,
Better to live, then to be COLD AND DEAD!"
-- Marion Reinke, McHenry
• • •
• Say your piece on IDOT's Long Range State Transportation Plan. An open house runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Chicago Metropolitan Area for Planning, Willis Tower, 233 S. Wacker Drive, Chicago. For more info, check out [URL]www.illinoistransportationplan.org;.
• It's Bike to Work Week. And take heart, suburbanites, it's not just about Chicagoans. The Active Transportation Alliance has tips and locations of pit stops at local Metra stations. This includes free coffee and treats for bikers at the Bartlett and Northbrook Metra stops today. To learn more, go to activetrans.org.
• Plan carefully if you're heading to Manny's Deli or the University of Illinois-Chicago campus this summer. IDOT will shut down one lane in each direction of Roosevelt Road over the Dan Ryan (I-90/94) starting today. Some ramps will close also. The repair work will last until Aug. 15.