C.N.P Poetry 

  • Cathexis Northwest Press

On this North Jersey Drive

By: Lauren Burstein

The trees, the yellow grass,

every crack in the newly paved highway,

the boulders ahead,

the ones behind—

a meandering maze.


As he accelerates.

I can’t tell part from part.

Where one begins is where another ends.


Cocooned in the backseat,

I look a bit closer

and realize a face

in terrestrial patterns.




Lauren Burstein is a high school English teacher from New Jersey who makes sense of the chaos through poetry. Her work has been featured in online and print publications, including American Writers Review 2020 and is forthcoming in La Piccioletta Barca, Bluing the Blade, and New Jersey Bards. Her ultimate goal is to speak truthfully and promote acceptance (for the self and others) and resilience, while acknowledging the pain and longing.


"When I wrote this poem, I imagined myself as a child sitting in the back seat during a family road-trip. There’s a catharsis that comes with feeling protected by the people you’re with, the vehicle that carries. While I thought of a childhood memory, I decided to change the driver to an ambiguous “he,” to add an element of mystery. Who is this driver? Why does he make the speaker feel “cocooned in the backseat?” That is up for interpretation.


While this poem is about security, it’s also about unity. When the speaker looks out at the nature, she sees a “face/ in terrestrial patterns.” I envision this to be the speaker’s own reflection, the way you might literally see yourself when you look out a window. On another level, this also refers to seeing ourselves in nature, seeing ourselves in the “meandering maze” which is a reference to “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. That poem feels relevant here, because it’s mysterious and beautiful and an ode to the natural. And when you see your own face within that picture, you realize you’re part of the great mystery that is life; you recognize your limitations and your opportunities all at once."

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