Mind Changes Writing Contest

young woman smiling with chin in hands long dark hair looking directly into the camera

Ruth Wu

Ruth Wu
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Oct 25, 2023

Johnson County Library is pleased to announce that Ruth Wu has won our writing contest on the theme Mind Changes with her piece "Driving Lessons."

Ruthie Wu is a '22 graduate from Wheaton College (IL) and a full-time paraoptometric technician. Ruthie has written a play, Under the Table, performed by KC Public Theatre in May 2023, a children's book, Kitty Learns a New Lesson, available for preorder on Duck Duck Books, a song, Alongside You in collaboration with Dash Reimer, which is available on all streaming platforms, and her artwork, Cycle Views, is on exhibit in the Central Resource Branch of the Johnson County Library. In addition, Ruthie has been featured in a short film and several music videos and continues to dance, sing, draw, write, and create in her spare time, accompanied by her cat and a pile of library books.

Driving lessons

When driving,
it is safest to go the same speed as everyone else.

You will know
you are going the same speed as everyone else
when it feels like 
no one is moving.

Only Earth rolls by
with you and a city of cars on it
the traffic, plugged by tragedy,
brews a storm of red and blue.

People part 
at the unholy interruption;
some swerve
some slow
others speed by in the far lane.
And you,
as people go their separate ways,
have choices to make.

You can let the accident make you impatient
You can mindlessly move on in monotony
Or you can drive carefully, newly aware of the neighbors 
flitting in and out of your space.

Let the scene replay in your mind
turning over and over as a vehicle 
over a cliff.

Let the ground disturb you as it
swallows daylight with
the silent harmony of compressed tension,
people mere taps away from a scream.

Watch as the mechanical flow
drags to a stop
engines snorting
itching to regroup into 
a long, cold stream of machines– 
and so easily torn apart.

it is safest to drive at the same speed as everyone else
wisest to keep the humanity behind the metal masks 
at the forefront of your mind.

Reviewed by Helen H.
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