“A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art.” –Henry David Thoreau

During National Poetry Month (April, for you non-word nerds), the Esurance editorial team found a way to combine our love of words with our love of cars by holding the Esurance Poems of the Road Contest. Throughout poetry month, we invited poets, travelers, and car lovers alike to wax poetic about the glories and travails of the road. And we couldn’t have asked for a more enthusiastic response.

After a lengthy scoring process, we narrowed the more than 1,300 submissions — sonnets, haikus, free verse poems, prose poems, limericks, and lyrics — down to 3 vastly different finalists and sent them off to Tom and Ray Magliozzi (aka Click and Clack) from NPR’s Car Talk for final judging.

Poems of the Road winners

So, without further ado, here are the Esurance Poems of the Road winners. Congratulations to you all!

First place

My Favorite Roads, Khristian Kay

My Favorite Roads are ashen a chalky white of patched and cracked arthritic asphalt aged and bleached there is no centerline no paint no makeup just raw flesh under a midday sun no defined lines limiting access but rather following the collective observable rules of good conduct and neighborly jurisprudence specifically for the
polite travelers the vagabonds trespassing moments
these are not the shiny black roads the glistening star lights
on a sable curtain these are lifelines like varicose veins warped
and stoic and telling the Braille staccato of farm implements
and tractors of horses and bikes and children skipping couples walking over the sticky tar patches plastered like gum or pine sap in the crease of wounded trees these roads tell stories experienced and weathered of time and life of legacy and inheritance of
history whispered through the wind

Second place

Western Equinox, Lara Wilber

The road’s gray cradle rocks
summer to sleep with the dusty hum of electricity
and dreams of cowboys on black horses.

At its most beautiful, the sun spends less time here –
Sneaking off with night to hold hands
at the overgrown drive-in, where the speakers hang
from lonely aluminum outposts in the sagebrush.

The hillsides are dappled with goldenrod, ochre –
inkwells for some radical composition of marigolds,
aspen, and flame. Riots of yellow birds.

This last defiant display like the protests
of a child at bedtime. I’m not tired yet…
I’m not tired. Somewhere in the distance reclines
A boy that turned into a blue mountain while he slept.

Third place

The Road Home, Joe Carvalko

At nineteen, rebellious, blackboard jungle funk, joy
rheostat — zero. Dig-it Daddio? Cool gloom,
smog in the noggin, stumbling through soda-jerk jobs,
joined the Army. One last time, me and my Chevy,
Penelope, blue ’52, skirts, whitewalls,
’47 Caddy V-8, two glasspacks, cruised
the drag, passed the five and dime, factories, passed
the spent on Railroad Ave., the rich on Country Club
Road, landmarks memorized so like Odysseus,
I could return to the familiar and old, but
after “Nam” it took fifty years to come back by
then it’d vanished in a wake of pot-holes, fifty
gallon drums, fast food wrappers, my Penelope
stripped bare, waving Old Glory, welcoming me home.

Thanks to all our poets

A big thanks to everyone who shared a poem with us. Your words made us laugh, reflect, and ponder … and certainly made it difficult to choose just 3 winners. We hope you’ll all continue to hoist those mighty pens and, as William Wordsworth once said, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”

Related link

The Robert Frost guide to car insurance

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about Jessica

During her time as senior copywriter at Esurance, Jessica wrote about everything from automotive trends to insurance tips to driving dogs (it’s a thing!). In her free time, you can find Jessica hiking with her dog (who cannot drive), devouring a good mystery, or very slowly learning Spanish.