December 26, 2007 Edition

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Driven to write

Vivian Heyl
TD Staff

When it comes to prize-winning poets one's first thoughts do not usually turn to the trucking industry. It wasn't until I received a press release about a poetry contest sponsored by Land Line, a magazine for professional truckers, that I even thought about truckers and poetry in the same sentence. I must admit I was more than curious about what kind of poetry would be represented.

As I scanned the release I saw that the winner was not only a career truck driver but also the author of two books of poetry. The release speculated that the long hours of isolation on the open road lends itself to turning a trucker's thoughts to the poetic.

Whether it was the isolation or some other influence, the overwhelming response the magazine received after it announced the contest in early 2007 surprised the editors.

"We thought we might receive 100 or so entries," the website states. "We were surprised when the August deadline rolled around and there were more than 500 entries to be judged."

The winner of the grand prize is 25-year veteran long-haul driver Dave Madill from British Columbia. Madill, who is now retired, is currently working on his third book of verse.

When I browsed the winning entries on Land Lines' website I found poetry with humor, insight and just a touch of philosophy. Madill's winning poem is a touch sentimental but none-the-less expresses a sympathy that we find in many classic poets' verse.

The Last Load
By David R. Madill

Alone out in the trailer yard he crumpled to his knees

Tried so hard to get his breath and whispered, "Not here please"

Pain blurred his vision as he opened up the door

One hand reached for the wheel and he gasped, "Just three feet more"

He collapsed into the seat and fumbled for the key

Then he heard the engine roar and he whispered, "Now let it be"

We found him in the morning, hands clenched upon the wheel

Eyes fixed on the horizon and his skin gray as steel

He went the way he wanted, with his boots upon his feet

His hands upon the steering wheel, sitting in the driver's seat

We buried him just today, with his logbook by his side

God when you go to judge him, remember that he loved to drive

To learn more about the poetry contest visit landlinemag.com/Archives/2007/Nov2007/Features/poetry.html.

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