Daily Archives: September 24, 2009

Yesterday, when you called me from where
They wring your body in rehabilitation,
And cried like static into the phone,
I wanted to say, this is not you anymore,

Forget your life as it is, let the receiver
Fall away as I do, summer, sandalled women
Along endless asphalt, black turf, glory again
Years ago, enough for both of us. Remember

How you used to swear there was nothing
Close, nothing that would ever shut you down,
Your `71 `Cuda, with its bored and blown
426 Hemi? Well, I believed you, racing

Alone all night in my bunk while our parents
Snored or tried to make another brother
Through the wafer-board walls. Rather
Than sleep I would listen for the chance

Screech and roar at an intersection
Rising somewhere from the gold sphere
Of mist that uptown became at night, sure
That it was you, and pretend I rode shotgun

Through that traffic of shadows, defending
Every stop light and woman on the boulevard
From the hated college boys whose lacquered
Foreign two-seaters were left finding

Second gear. Older, I cruised with you
And your girlfriends, smelled their beer
As perfume, watched you make them wet right there
On the leather seat; and I’m sorry now

I lied about my own nights, still a virgin
At sixteen when I followed you into
The mill. You said if there was any true
Likeness to the innards of an engine

In this world it was that place: metal dust
Searing as ash, arrow showers of sparks, booms
That swung and plunged while fires loomed
In vats; all day the roar ground us, a blast

Of steam down our throats, the world red hot,
Water cooled, sweat oiled. I know we’re both
Big, and you were bigger, with a bad mouth
And a good right, but when that plate hit

Your back, I knew you’d never walk again.
In the facility that you lived to loathe,
Where the spoon quivered each day to the mouth,
They claimed your hands might come back and then

Maybe your sex. Your wife wants children,
And you can’t stand to think she’ll bear
Only you, alive but miscarried somewhere
Inside yourself, the way that car you can

Never drive, sits eaten by rain out back
With half a tank of gas, and lets the weeds
Embrace it with slow ruin. Go on, you said,
Take it, and finally I did, for your sake,

But I won’t drive it. I still punch a clock
For the men born in white shirts and paisley
Ties, whose parted hair flutters in the AC
Of their offices. Their armpits used to reek

With real sweat under the exertion of facing me
While I helped all those adjusters and lawyers
Right the wrong, so you could lie for years
Totally snowed with Darvon. Sometimes I see

Their wives turn as I pass, to second the praise
Of my snug work clothes, the smell of Paris rising
From their breasts, because now that you’re nothing
I’m the one they take raw and finish with their eyes.

All their laughing smiles remind me of a night
When I raced beside you, loving the whiff
Of high octane that seemed to never wear off
Your skin. We waited by the black iron gates

Of the University, the supercharger you bolted on,
Simmering, until an Austin-Healey nosed the line
At the light. The driver flicked his thumb down
While his blonde shook her head and laughed. On green

You let him have a length, and then all
At once, so smoothly, so evenly, your foot
Bore down the throttle like a man who puts
His root inside a woman because they will

Never have anything else, your Firestones
Scorching in every gear, your hand tossing
The shifter as the drive train whooped in passing,
The sidepipes emptying like 12 gauge shotguns.

Shuddering with sheer torque, you sucked the chase
Right out of them. But pulling up at the light,
They were still laughing. They just sat
And loved it because they didn’t care, because

They didn’t give a goddamn what a true-
Run, boost-snorting, big block motor could do.

                                                             —David Moolten