Smarte Carte
by Andy Gullahorn
May 23, 2013 – Nashville, TN

Smart Carte
I hate the idea of paying for a smarte carte.

If I happen to really need one
      and don’t see an abandoned one on the way out of the terminal
   I will walk out past the arrivals curb
      all the way out to short term parking
        searching for a lonely, untethered cart
           left resting against some cement pillar
        that I can take for free.
All that work is worth saving the three dollars to me.

Even more abhorable to me is the thought of paying those guys
      with the big carts
   who look for the weakest calf stepping off the escalator
      so that they can move in for the kill!

        “Need some help with your luggage, sir?”

I don’t.
I am a man
   strong enough to handle my own bags, thank you.

Now which way is it to the short term parking?

The wife always wants me to pay for a smarte carte when we travel together.
I scoff and remind her
      using only my facial expressions and vocal huffs
   that I can provide for this family by carrying all of the bags myself.
Like I did that time in Seattle
   when I managed to carry three suitcases
      a backpack
        and two guitars
   on a hurried, stress-filled race to the rental car shuttle.

Oh. We made it to the shuttle.
   Just in time for the handle of the roller bag
     that was serving as the pack mule for this particular expedition
        to buckle under the sheer weight of the attached luggage.
So there I was – sweating
   and trying to unhook bags and load them onto the bus
     then attempting to force the bent bars back into their hiding place
        in the hindquarters of the suitcase.

It didn’t work.

Out of frustration
     or embarrassment
   I just bent the cheap metal back and forth
     until it snapped
        leaving two razor-sharp horns
          sticking out of a Samsonite

The wife said to me, “Should have paid for a cart.”

I guess, perhaps, that is why this feeling is so familiar.

I start out with the pack mule roller
      full of the daily-wear stresses of the season.
Then, there is a friend with brain cancer
   another whose marriage is disintegrating
      and another.
Then, there is financial stress in the family
   and a disagreement with a friend
      and an issue at the kids’ school.
Then, when it already seems too much to bear
   the plastic-strip curtained mouth of the baggage claim belt
      spits out a tumor at the base of a one year old brainstem
        and a three year prison sentence for a dear friend
          and yet another marriage going down the tubes.

Still, I pile it on.

But somewhere behind my desire to keep calm and carry on
      I know that something is about to buckle.

Maybe it is time to wave down the guy with the big cart
   swallow my pride
      and say
            I guess I was wrong.
            I could use some help with my luggage.

And he will come with his glorified smarte carte saying

Lay your burdens down.


Andy Gullahorn HeadshotAndy Gullahorn has a unique ability to level the playing field between performer and audience by mixing vulnerable personal stories with his self-deprecating humor. He writes songs to “let people know they aren’t alone” or “at least let them feel better about their lives by sheer comparison.” He spends his time playing concerts and house shows across the country, writing for other artists, and providing his three kids with plenty of stories to tell their counselors in 20 years. His new CD Beyond the Frame was just released and may be purchased by clicking here.

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3 thoughts on “Smarte Carte

  1. Andy, I’m so thankful that God made you the Andy Gullahorn that you are. Not many people can tell a story like this; just when I begin to think it’s a nonsense poem (which I was loving, by the way), there is much more to it — and I wind up feeling a bit overwhelmed by the depth (yes, the depth — who knew?!?) of it. Thanks for giving yourself to this; your life has impacted mine in ways for which I am very, very grateful.

  2. Andy, I don’t care if I know poetry or not…this is beautiful. You start with the goofy humor I’ve come to expect from your art, and then you floor me with such depth and humility. You disarm me so I can laugh at myself while I laugh at you, and then you sneak in the real message of love and acceptance. But then again, you do it to me every time and I still get taken by surprise. Thank you for sharing yourself, your story, and your experiences of Jesus with the rest of us.

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