Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1999]
Jenny was so happy about the house they had found.
For once in her life it was on the right side of town.
She unpacked her things with such great ease.
As she watched her new curtains blow in breeze.
How wonderful it was to have her own room.
School would be starting, she'd have friends over soon.
There'd be sleep-overs, and parties; she was so happy
It's just the way she wanted her life to be.
On the first day of school, everything went great.
She made new friends and even got a date!
She thought, "I want to be popular and I'm going to be,
Because I just got a date with the star of the team!"
To be known in this school you had to have a clout,
And dating this guy would sure help her out.
There was only one problem stopping her fate.
Her parents had said she was too young to date.
"Well, I just won't tell them the entire truth.
They won't know the difference; what's there to lose?"
Jenny asked to stay with her friends that night.
Her parents frowned but said, "All right."
Excited, she got ready for the big event
But as she rushed around like she had no sense,
She began to feel guilty about all the lies,
But what's a pizza, a party, and moonlight ride?
Well, the pizza was good, and the party was great,
But the moonlight ride would have to wait.
For Jeff was half drunk by this time.
But he kissed her and said that he was just fine.
Then the room filled with smoke and Jeff took a puff.
Jenny couldn't believe he was smoking that stuff.
Now Jeff was ready to ride to the point
But only after he'd smoked another joint.
They jumped in the car for a moonlight ride,
Not thinking that he was too drunk to drive.
They finally made it to the point at last,
And Jeff started trying to make a pass.
A pass is not what jenny wanted at all
(and by a pass, I don't mean playing football).
"Perhaps my parents were right ... maybe I am too young.
Boy, how could I ever, ever be so dumb.
With all her might, she pushed Jeff say away:
"Please take me home, I don't want to stay."
Jeff cranked up the engine and floored the gas.
In a matter of seconds they were going too fast.
As Jeff drove on in a fit of wild anger,
Jenny knew that her life was in danger.
She begged and pleaded for him to slow down,
But he just got faster as they neared the town.
"Just let me go home! I'll confess that I lied.
I really went out for a moonlight ride."
Then all of a sudden, she saw a big flash.
"Oh God, Please help us! We're going to crash!"
She doesn't remember the force of the impact.
Just that everything all of a sudden went black.
She felt someone remove her from the twisted rubble,
And heard, " Call an ambulance! There kids are in trouble!"
Voices she heard.... A few words at best.
But she knew there were two cars involved in the wreck.
Then wondered to herself if Jeff was all right,
And if the people in the other car were alive.
She awoke in the hospital to faces so sad.
"You've been in a wreck and it looks pretty bad."
These voices echoed inside her head,
As they gently told her that Jeff was dead.
They said "Jenny, we've done all we can do.
But it looks as if we'll lose you too."
"But the people in the other car?" Jenny cried.
"We're sorry, Jenny, they also died."
Jenny prayed, "God, forgive me for what I've done
I only wanted to have just one night of fun."
"Tell those people's family, I've made their lives dim,
And wish I could return their families to them."
"Tell Mom and Dad I'm sorry I lied,
And that it's my fault so many have died.
Oh, nurse, won't you please tell them that for me?
The nurse just stood there — she never agreed.
But took Jenny's hand with tears in her eyes.
And a few moments later Jenny died.
A man asked the nurse, " Why didn't you do your best
To bid that girl her one last request?"
She looked at the man
with eyes so sad.
"Because the people in the other car
were her Mom and Dad."
Origins: The slow and painful death of whoever inflicted this maudlin piece of rhyming glurge upon us would indeed be "poetic justice." But remember the valuable lesson presented here: Beware
Or, to put that in a less cryptic fashion, the piece above is a cautionary tale meant to illustrate the dangers inherent in the taking of drugs. "If Jeff hadn't been high," says the piece, "he'd have gotten Jenny home
The poem is meant to drive home the lesson that not taking drugs is only part of what teens must do to safeguard themselves from their ill effects; the larger message is that all teens everywhere have to learn not to get into cars driven by anyone whose abilities to drive safely have been compromised, be it by drugs, alcohol, lack of sleep, or heightened emotions. (Anger, sadness, or even elation can cause drivers to be much less aware of what's going on around them, a situation that can lead to horrific car crashes.)
If there's a lesson to be learned from this truly abysmal poem, it's to find someone else to get you home you if you're at all unsure about your driver's condition. Call a cab, or ask a friend. Ask your friend's folks to give you a lift. Call your parents, even if the hour is late and they're going to be mad at you — it's far better to reach home in one
Two special factors contribute to the problem of teens' riding with folks who clearly shouldn't be allowed behind the wheel: presumption of immortality and a desire to not offend the driver.
Only as humans complete the developmental process of growing up do they come to realize that bad things can happen to them. During the teen years, this realization is still in a state of growth between the child's unawareness of danger and the adult's comprehension that bad things not only happen to others, they can happen to them. Common to adolescents is a potentially deadly combination of awareness of danger wed to an almost unshakable belief that those particular hazards will never have any impact on them. Teens know about death and carnage, but they view them uncomprehendingly as elements that unfold on the big screen solely for entertainment purposes. In the rare instances where tragedy touches someone close to them, they tend to wave away the potential realization that they live in a jeopardy-infested world by viewing what happened on a "one case" basis, an aberration to the normal course of things. (This "It'll never happen to me" state of mind is a driving force behind the belief that gals can't get pregnant the first time they engage in sex or that teens won't catch AIDS from their partners.)
The second factor that prevents teens from standing up to impaired drivers and refusing to ride with them is the potent need for approval and its resulting fear of attracting criticism. They don't wish to be ridiculed ("You're such a baby!"), nor do they want to chance a friend's thinking less of them ("Bob will never ask me out again if I make a big deal out of this"). That shying away from — and risking the disapproval of — someone who was prepared to drive while impaired is considered a social shortcoming only illustrates the point: In teens the need for approval runs so strong that it often blinds them to what would be glaringly obvious to adults, that someone willing to risk his and others' lives owes them the apology, not the other way around.
There are no easy cures for a teen's presumption of immortality and desperate need for approval other than growing up, but perhaps repetition is the key to overcoming their effects: Don't get into a car driven by someone who's clearly under the weather. Don't, don't, and don't.
The poem attempts to impart this message through the literary device of "escalation of tragedy." The accident that takes Jenny's life not only kills her pot-smoking boyfriend, but her parents as well. Fatal accidents where someone who loses his life riding in one vehicle being related to someone who dies in the other car are rare but they do happen, as was the case in 2002 when two sisters traveling in different vehicles died in the same accident. There have also been cases of parents and children riding in separate cars being involved in the same auto accident where no fatalities occurred. In similar fashion, in March 2002 a man in the Seattle area witnessed a fatal crash in which his daughter was killed: Brian Christianson was on his way to pick up his daughter, Alina Christianson, when a speeding car careened by him and crashed into another. He stopped to see if he could help, peered into the car, and saw his dead daughter in the vehicle, but the light was bad and he didn't realize the victim was his daughter. That's not quite an example of this particular literary device making the transition from fiction into reality, but it's close enough to merit mention.
An example that's even closer was the December 2001 deaths of Diane Samples and Vivian Green. The pair were out looking at Christmas lights when their vehicle was hit from behind by a car traveling at
We can't safeguard ourselves from every danger, but it only makes sense to safeguard ourselves from the ones we can. Don't drive while impaired, and don't drive with anyone else who is.
Barbara "be a wreckless driver" Mikkelson
Last updated: 25 February 2007
Burkitt, Janet. "Father Witnessed Fatal Accident, Not Knowing It Was His Daughter." Seattle Times. 23 March 2002. The Associated Press. "Brakes on Car that Killed Driver's Mother Were Shot." 8 March 2002.