Where new writing finds its voice

A Driving Instructor’s First Gastrointestinal Cramp

Arlene Ang

It was a manhole.
And half of what looked like the remains
of a sword-swallower.
He saw right through it. He saw
his blood run cold over the student’s red
nail polish. She was a pinball
machine behind the wheel. She tilted
towards the opposite lane.
A traffic jam the size of a big top
burst, pustule-like, at the corner
of his left eye. He clucked his tongue,
like a night nurse, a time bomb.
He pretended there was
a sprinkler chopping dead wood
in the adjacent car. Sweat
painted his stomach lining white.
His left foot found
its Ice Age on the brake.
He looked down, then up. He watched
the automobiles swerve
away from them – left, right, left – 
like a hundred Quasimodos
flipping their made-to-order bird at him.