In the Petrol Station

In the petrol station
a guy and girl in the queue
they were new
I could tell.

The guy waved at the displays
have anything you want,
he said,
anything they sell.

The girl looked around
chocolate bars, magazines, gum.
She went to the corner,
got something,
brought it back,
heaved it on the counter.


a five litre can of motor oil

at least she wouldn't be cheap.

(c) Ken Armstrong 2008


Jim Murdoch said...

I enjoyed this piece. I love a good punch line. And this was a good one. I'm not sure that it's poetry, the test for that being if you reformatted it as prose would it lose anything, but since I veer towards the prosaic in my own work let's not make an issue about it. I get a little tired with all the squabbling between poets and prosers – there's only writing and there's good writing and bad. And this is good.

My main criticism is the word 'dropped' – I don't think you would drop a can of motor oil. I'd go with 'heaved' myself, it's funnier without giving away your ending.

Also, the absence of punctuation meant I wasn't altogether clear how to read the 'there' that follows it. If it has been


it would have been clearer that it was what the girl was saying. There are a few other words I'd tweak but when do you leave a piece alone? That said, if it had been a moose's head, now that would have been funny.

Ken Armstrong said...

This Great, Jim, thanks very much.

I would say it's definitely not poetry. I sometimes do some rhyming (limericks being a fave) and sometimes do very short prose, as this is, but poetry is too heavy a burden for me to carry.

Really it's a solution to a problem, I had a funny incident - (first half real, second half fantasised) and found that it lost all the fun when recounted in full prose form. So I took a 'telegram' sort of an approach, frivolously formatted as a poem to make it a bit easier to read.

'Heaved' is good, I might have that...

I usually punctuate-like-mad - it was kind of liberating to leave it all out - and the ambiguity of the word 'there' (perhaps the story-teller is pointing to the place where she heaved her oil can onto?) (he's not)

Sadly, the Moose aspect had to go. You know how you have to kill your darlings sometimes??

Anonymous said...

im not sure this is poetry either.....but great work of art anyway..thumbs up!!!!

Anonymous said...

Not sure I could LIFT a 5 liter can of motor oil much less HEAVE one :)

But then again, I'm just a little old lady :P


Rachel Fox said...

Well, some people would call this a's really up to you. But you're quite right...poetry can be a burden (largely due to the poets!)...maybe best to keep clear if you can! A lot of good prose writers have a bit of poet in them (if you know what I mean - less smirking...).

And I agree too that it can be liberating to lose punctuation for a's a bit like running around barefoot or something. You enjoy it when you can!


Reese said...

It must have been a new relationship. Otherwise she might have thrown it at him!

*I've been married for 19 years--child bride*

Susan at Stony River said...

I like this girl! It leaves me wondering what the story is behind wanting so much motor oil (and as usual making one up...LOL)

Thanks for a fun post!

hope said...

You made me grin...good enough for me, no matter what style format you choose. :)

Ken Armstrong said...

Margaret: Sure you could lift it, I have every confidence. :)

Rachel: I'll stick with 'not a poem' but if someone wants to think it is that's okay with me. :)

Reese: I've been married for seventeen- child hubbie! :)

Susan: Never mind this 'like this girl' stuff, back to the writing, you. :)

Hope: a grin is all I ask, oh and an email address - how we gonna work this? :)

Anonymous said...

This is liberating indeed, lol...I don't care much for form and measured verses. It's your work so you're at liberty to be as creative as you can. Would you mind to visit what I wrote too as "poetry"? lol...To me it's poetry...I hope so..
As Jim said, "...there's only good and bad writing. And this is good."

Unknown said...

Nice, Ken. Poetry among the petrol...

Ken Armstrong said...

Jena: I'll be round to see your poetry. It better be good, mind. :)

Hello Jenn: More like 'Guff among the Gasoline' but thanks. :)

McGuire said...

How considerate of her to buy motor oil.

A light comic little observation, Ken.