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Tuesday, April 22, 2008


by Linda Lerner

a large white convertible cruises
into late December, turning heads,
a few rub their eyes, “wow, neat car,”
someone yells, another gives a thumbs up
to the white haired man behind the wheel;
          he nods back,
just taking his baby out for a spin,
not wired to twenty first century sound bytes
no seat belts to strap him in
                    It's 1959. His first car.
“aint nothin’ but a hound dog” rocks;
just out of college and ready to make news
he’s burning rubber in Brooklyn
the country still riding I love Ike
prosperity, victory in not
just one but future wars;

what would have paid
kids’college tuition, bought a nice home
keeps his engine running, heart beating:
50 years and good as new,
but every creak in the car’s struggle
to push open its top echoes in his bones
means it’s back to finding a mechanic
knows how to fix classic cars
won’t rip him off;
price doesn’t matter: in this car
he’s lost nothing

driving down Flatbush Avenue toward
a sign that reads Atlantic
crosses another avenue back to
the mom & pop owned Brooklyn
of small grocery stores, drugstore counters
he sat at sipping egg creams, feeling
like he was standing in the outfield
at Ebbets Field ready to pitch into greatness,
back on that old route 66, reaching
skyward across the American imagination,
down streets barber shop poles twirl
red white and blue’s possibilities;

people stop walking, stare
or peer out small car windows
from cost of gas, high rent & job worries
their own era’s annihilation threats
roaring overhead to where
the Armageddon didn’t happen
bomb the Russians never dropped,
stare at this shiny new-looking Ford
James Dean or Elvis might have driven
top pulled down waving to the crowd,
stare in wonderment; almost prayer...

two women in jeans, stiletto heals
rings in their noses, lips,
bring the troops home buttons on
jackets point to the car,
“it rocks” one shouts, he looks out,
abruptly rear ended by 2008;
“hey mister,” the woman cries,
“if you’re going to Williamsburg,
can you give us a lift?”

Linda Lerner is the author of twelve poetry collections, the most recent being Living in Dangerous Times (Pressa Press) and City Woman (March Street Press). Recent poems appear in Tribes, Onthebus, The Paterson Literary Review, The New York Quarterly, Home Planet News, and Van Gogh’s Ear. She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 1995 Andrew Gettler and she began Poets on the Line, the first poetry anthology on the Net for which she received two grants for the Nam Vet Poets issue. Its anthology remains on line although new publication ceased in 2000.