Lives of Streets

A few months ago I posted a prompt inviting writers to write from the point of view of a plant, tree, flower, or bush. Today’s prompt is somewhat similar, but instead of plant life, the focus is on street life. That is, I invite you to begin to write a piece of prose or poetry from the point of view of a street, highway, avenue, road, lane, court, or drive.

Here’s some further direction: Perhaps choose a street you grew up on or near. Or perhaps the street you live on now. Or a highway you’ve driven on frequently. (Note: this throughway can be real or imagined.) Perhaps write an autobiography of an avenue or lane. When was it born? Can it die? If so, is it still alive? What were some of its major accomplishments? Disappointments? Brushes with fame? Moments of despair, joy, pain, ecstasy? Does your chosen street speak with an accent? In a certain language? In many languages?

And if all that doesn’t inspire, read this (an excerpt from William Gass’ excellent, unorthodox short story “In the Heart of the Heart of the Country“; note: the following is not written from the point of view of a street, but it does contains some extremely vivid street life, and is one helluva paragraph to boot):

One side section of street is blocked off with sawhorses. Hard, thin, bitter men in blue jeans, cowboy boots and hats, untruck a dinky carnival. The merchants are promoting themselves. There will be free rides, raucous music, parades and coneys, pop, popcorn, candy, cones, awards, and drawings, with all you can endure of pinch, push, bawl, shove, shout, scream, shriek, and bellow. Children pedal past on decorated bicycles, their wheels a blur of color, streaming crinkled paper and excited dogs. A little later, there’s a pet show for a prize–dogs, cats, birds, sheep, ponies, goats–none of which wins. The whirlabouts whirl about. The Ferris wheel climbs dizzily into the sky as far as a tall man on tiptoe might be persuaded to reach, and the irritated operators measure the height and weight of every child with sour eyes to see if they are safe for the machines. An electrical megaphone repeatedly trumpets the names of the generous sponsors. The following day they do not allow the refuse to remain long in the street.