1970 road trip with science fiction great Thomas M. Disch and poet Marilyn Hacker

In 1970 SF author Charles Platt (above, right) drove with Thomas M. Disch and Marilyn Hacker from New York to California. Sounds like quite a trip!

After an obligatory Howard Johnson’s roadside dinner in Pennsylvania, Tom suggested that since none of us wanted to see the eastern states, he could continue driving till around 5AM while I slept on the rear seat, after which we’d trade places. I duly passed out in the back, but woke abruptly a couple of hours later, sensing that something was–different. Then I realized that the car wasn’t moving.

Heavy rain was hammering the windshield and the roof. “Where the hell are we?” I asked.

”Interstate 80,” said Tom.

I peered through the side windows. “But you stopped in the fast lane!”

He gestured at the water pouring down the windshield. “Well, no one can possibly be driving in this.”

Tom was a very intelligent person. In fact he wrote a whole book, once, about intelligence. Common sense, however, was another matter. “Get this car onto the shoulder, immediately!” I yelled at him. He muttered and grumbled but did as I asked. Moments later a huge truck roared over the section of asphalt where we had been parked before I woke up.

They wrote a bunch of poetry together on the trip, which the published in a now highly-sought-after booklet, called Highway Sandwiches.

Platt du Jour: Two Poets, One Chevelle

Previously: Driving off the side of a mountain in Colorado