May: A Festival of Poetry
Tim Walsh & Kathryn Gahl
When the World was Rear-Wheel Drive
It was all a game of blouses, bras, and illicit beer.
Seventeen in New Jersey back in ’75
with Bruce singing about muscle cars and motorcycles,
fathers and factories.
This was back when everything was rear-wheel drive,
gasoline at fifty cents a gallon.
Bias-ply tires, not those European radials.
Butterfly windows, high-beam toe switches,
Hood scoops and racing stripes with rear ends jacked up
like cats in heat.
I remember cars with bench seats big as beds,
cars that were half like houses—
brash boats of cars with thirsty carburetors,
the drive train running the length of the car in a visible hump
feeding power to the rear wheels,
rear wheels that rocketed you onward,
a force from behind like the hand of God obedient
to the slightest pressure of your toe on the accelerator.
In the firefly twilight of the dashboard light,
you learned how to undo a bra clasp with one hand,
finagle troublesome zippers on tight jeans,
and then came the long, slow slide of silky underwear
down satin thighs,
the telescoping radio antenna drawing music from the sky
like a lightning rod.
Nowadays, compared to that innocent extravagance,
driving seems a paltry, decaffeinated thing,
inching along in our compact cars,
front wheels digging in like fingernails,
pulling us parsimoniously along as our hybrids
take hummingbird sips of gas.
Still, the revving of a motorcycle
or some old heap with a shot muffler
brings back those days when we cruised the night
each in our personal roaring apocalypse,
our polished chrome rebellion
rolling along so sweetly on mag wheels.
-- Tim Walsh
The Mechanic's Wife
She is but exhaust in the room
as he grinds one bolt
threads another and
fills the grease-gun
with amber thick stick-to-it-iveness.
With each grunt he creates
friction. In the shop's shaky light,
he squints, stops only for a
soda and a cigarette, fires
an air-gun while her ears shriek.
He fills the house with stains that
preach since she has yet to come to
Soon the sun will beat
through the pane, pour crystals
on the calendar girls he keeps nearby.
She will bleach his fingers
with kisses and talk dirty,
swear she likes it
gritty and extreme.
-- Kathryn Gahl
Appeared in Amarillo Bay, 2014