Internal Combustion – Ian Glass

Internal combustion

Daughter number two stares at me in mock horror:
eyes wide, mouth wider. She wants to know
why a car engine makes such a lot of noise,
which is not easy to explain when you’re driving.

Explosions? she says, real explosions?
Perhaps the horror is real: arms folded tight,
legs pressed hard against the seat,
retreating from this unexpected threat.

How many explosions?
………………………………………………I calculate roughly,
and miss the roundabout exit.

A hundred!
……………………….She says, as I go round again,
a hundred explosions every second!
What sort of death-wish madness builds machines
that explode a hundred times a second?

Traffic lights change to red:
a perfect opportunity
to explain the four stroke Otto cycle,
and while she’s not entirely gripped

by my discourse on compression ratios,
adiabatic expansion, temperature,
pressure and entropy; moving off
I sense her interest in the variations

of these mad death-wish machines:
the delicate sparking that animates
a petrol engine; the self-reliant
auto-ignition of a diesel.

Given a choice,
……………………………she says,
I would rather ignite spontaneously
than wait for a spark.

 

Ian was raised in Northumberland, lives in Worcestershire and has two grown-up daughters.  He trained as an engineer but when not writing he works as a programmer.  Ian’s poems have appeared in Ink, Sweat and Tears and Algebra of Owls.

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