Linda Pastan: Poems

Jump Cabling: Connecting Cars and People College

Sometimes a stranger offers to help, sometimes a person is forced to ask a stranger, but when the car won’t start, odds are two strangers are going to meet. Linda Pastan’s 1984 poem, “Jump Cabling,” reveals how the simple act of jump-starting a car may jump-start love. Through repetition, alliteration, simile, metaphor, and a unique structure Pastan creates an uncommon poem that ties a common and mundane occurrence to romance.

“Jump Cabling” is a poem about a dead battery, a stranded motorist, and the stranger that stops to help. Presented in eight lines of free verse it is a monologue in which the speaker is never quite identified but seems to be female while the rescuer is presumably male.

Repetition and alliteration provide tone and pacing as well as some thematic tie-ins. The word “when” is the first word in lines 1 and 2 and is repeated in lines 4 and 6. Although presented without an inquisitive sense, the repetition of “when” in four of eight lines gives the poem a wistful, expectant tone. The alliteration of the oft-repeated “when” with other “w” words such as “we were,” (4) “woke,” (7) “why,” (8) and “way” (8) provides a flowing pace throughout the poem. In such words as “cars,” (1) “workings,” (3) “pure,” (5) and “energy...

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