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.