Driving Lessons

Father boxed up anger but it was precisely there,
inside the red Vega, hurtling north on the 101, early fall.
He’d once had a Plymouth Fury—Blue Cross company
car. This one’s a demo model. White interior.

Vega, brightest star in Lyra, lyre of Orpheus who charmed
laurel, basalt, the darkest of rivers. We were inside the red
star, inside the lyre, the crash and stream of traffic’s rhapsodic
song of success, bewitching Sturm-und-Drang style.

In the dark, headlamps swept Mercurys, Continentals.
One sped up, slowed, blocked and toyed. This is America:
cars, asphalt highways, logo glint of power and dominance.
Next to my father I calibrated magnitude—brightest
star inside brightest star, shotgun rider to breadwinner.

Grab that box in the back, he said. Dump it out.
Smile and shoeshine leveraged insurance sales.
Threefold pamphlets confettied cargo floor.
Can you see what’s coming? I couldn’t

Engine gunned, red Vega torched its way ahead,
settled neatly in Continental’s path. Give it to me.
Empty box passed to his hands, his smirk-flecked
eyes to rearview mirror. Window cranked down, box

pushed out, somersaulted behind us. Our vicious red star
peeled away and, dear reader, my head swung, twisted
to see the path we’d come. The box bounced once,
twice. Continental swerved, horn a savage blare, unholy

instrument. Satisfied father slapped the wheel. Whistled a bit.
The wind cleared things. I saw my father’s anger, the America
that raised him. The lyre of all that victory. My feet
tapped out the melody on the passenger side floorboard.

After Effects/2020

Maybe indoors will become outdoors, the world
watched from inside—bit of old-timey entertainment.

Maybe the thousand desires will float overhead,
abandoned in lowered expectations’ aftermath.

Maybe we’ll become small packs or packless, motors
revving, eyes glued to packs on-screen, untouchable.

Maybe touch will disappear, except for those in company,
tainted though it may be. I overheard a woman:

Maybe it’s practice for old age—the loneliness, you know?
We hardly need the practice, do we, the heart in fact

tight in its own cinched casing, the you beyond
our skin in its double-blind, double bind Airstream.

Maybe I’ll sit with my eyes—I can still see!—blurred into
submission, clutching my hand so’s I know I’m still here.

Take What’s Necessary

When you dive I know it’s the flesh
you’re after. Not the fur, the tiny teeth,
bones between ankle and thigh,
savory, but not what you came
for. You’ll strip all that while I watch,
admire those goat-horn talons,
that beak, the smooth curve of it down
to the tip, razor sharp. Don’t I want it—
the slash and tear, skin flayed before
my eyes. So I stand proud, a stone’s throw
away, nuzzling my own sweet viciousness
that only wants a bite to eat. Only
wants to pierce the soft surface, dig
into rich meat—eyes intent lairs.
Blank. Single focused. Someone else
can use the downy outside: slippers,
socks, an earmuff. I’ll settle close by
as you finish, stamp gentle the moist
cold earth, step back, lift effort
of wings—I want those, too—
and cut the air in three, great strokes,
to rise, indifferently. Tiny teeth, soft fur
left behind—scattered, unnecessary.