Max Reif

Rookie - 18 Points (1948 / OVER 400 POEMS SERVED! !)

.01) Taxi Memories - Poem by Max Reif

The taxi driver ferried passengers
in the clunky station wagon
anywhere they sent him,
bright sun or depth of night—

an old, woman needing safe passage
to the market and back home;
a prostitute enroute to work
on 'the stroll' downtown;
Pentacostal preachers arriving
at the airport for a conclave.
an old Vet who fainted in the lobby
and had to be carried
upstairs to his wife;
the young man visiting
the orphanage where he'd been raised,
going to get the money
and skipping out on his fare.

Sometimes the 'passenger'
was a box of chilled blood
on dry ice, urgently bound
for a hospital patient's veins.
You never knew where the next
fare would take you.

Sometimes he companioned
the white moon all night,
other nights had to go it alone
through frigid, moonless skies
as thick, white smoke
from factory chimneys
ascended the city like prayers.

The mystic radio's 3 AM crackling
could bring a voice from the night
that sent him gliding silent streets
to transport a lonely soul.

He knew the city
like he knew his own soul,
every passenger
a version of himself.

Sometimes he felt
an uncanny sense:
he was not just a tiny
point on the grid,
but the whole Mandala, at once.

Every afternoon at rush hour,
the bottom fell out of the world.
Workers raced madly
to empty downtown
as traffic cops blew whistles,
waving their frantic arms.

It took more than red lights and police
to counter entropy's force
there on the downtown streets.
The hand that directed the traffic
had to be Providence itself.

He watched the city and the world survive
miraculously, one more day—
and every day,
it happened again!

After a time he moved
on to other adventures,
but a green Checker taxi
will always be
cruising the streets of his heart,

just as there will always be
such ferrymen in the world—
as long as there are cities,
as long as there is night.


Comments about .01) Taxi Memories by Max Reif

  • (4/14/2007 10:57:00 PM)


    Wow! The grid of the city's map a Mandala imprinted on the mind of the taxi driver. I couldn't help think of Charon steering his floating taxi on the River Styx. (Report) Reply

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  • (7/1/2006 5:24:00 PM)


    Excellent Max! like memories of Re-birth? yes the ferryman knows the depth of the river than others? (Report) Reply

  • (3/2/2006 2:01:00 PM)


    Dear Max, The atmosphere in your poems is stunning:
    He knew the city
    like he knew his own soul,
    every passenger
    as a version of himself. Where did those lines come from, this is excellent poetry.Love Duncan
    (Report) Reply

  • (2/14/2006 10:22:00 AM)


    Max, that is just so beautiful. (Report) Reply

  • (2/11/2006 11:22:00 PM)


    I really enjoyed the humanity in this poem, life experiences expressing much insight. 'every passenger a version of himsef' I enjoyed the sense of adventure in not knowing, not being able to predict, but the comfort grown, and memories rich with wisdom.

    Thanks! :)
    (Report) Reply

  • (12/10/2005 4:48:00 AM)


    This is a great head swimming ride -along. I was amazed at the visual inducement in this long piece. Alot of great lines in here.....the line about entropy which is the chaotic pulse of this city...the fares in their variety, even blood to a hospital. I liked the ending as well melding the streets of the city and the streets of the cabbie's heart. Great work here. Like a fine sculpture in the round. (Report) Reply

  • (8/5/2005 12:19:00 PM)


    This is very well done, Max. There is something mundane when one pictures a taxi driver with his checkered cab. You have turned him into a PERSONA. I wouldn't cut a single thing. The ending is clear that you have been in his head (or cab) and understand him. You might play around with the tense, as Vaun suggested. It is always good to do that, but I personally think it works well in this tense. Present tense might sound contrived.

    Raynette
    (Report) Reply

  • (8/5/2005 11:31:00 AM)


    Max, you're a master storyteller. This is good, narrative poetry, which is a lost art, or has been transformed into the 'small boring moment' anecdotal type of poetry. Nice job. Thoughts of nipping and cutting are never bad, because you always want to pare the work down to the essentials. But sometimes a long poem IS the essential product, which I think is the case here. You know how I feel about long poems: all great poets write them sometimes; it shows scope, and mastery over a topic or idea, even if it rambles a bit. Its your call. I like it fine the way it is, buddy. (Report) Reply

  • (8/5/2005 11:15:00 AM)


    Hey, this is good, but i agree it could be better. You might want to revise it so that it is in the present tense instead of the past tense, this way there is more of a connection between the reader and the taxi driver (Report) Reply

  • (8/5/2005 9:50:00 AM)


    Honest answer. If you are only on your 3rd revision, you have twenty to go. Right now you have an essay that tries to include 'everything' about the taxi driver, but there is something deeper that has caused you to focus on him. I suspect that you know something very personal about his story, but I don't find it in the poem yet. Keep turning it in revision until it appears as if out of a fog. Have faith. If you stick with the process long enough it will pay off. Having said that, plan to cut at least 2/3rds of the poem. Get down to the morsel that counts. Keep the lines that count and weave them together. I wouldn't have taken the time to respond if there wasn't a lot of good material to work with. Go crazy and cut, cut, cut all the while knowing that you can put it back in if you don't like the poem with a buzz cut. (Report) Reply

  • (8/5/2005 9:38:00 AM)


    Max, I don't think this poem needs improving. I liked it a lot; it has a lot of powerful imagery. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Friday, August 5, 2005

Poem Edited: Sunday, April 15, 2007


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