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Thursday, May 17, 2012


by F. S. Symons

Image source: eHow

An old car arrives, leaks
in its exhaust system,
holes in the rusty floorboards.
Inhaling carbon I cough in the lube pit and
shout, turn off your engine. Through the floor,
I see the driver’s long pale legs, inches
above me, safe in the pleats of her khaki skirt.

Years ago, my friend Kyle
had been wearing a khaki shirt,
in our classroom turned shooting gallery,
bright red oozing out of the bullet
hole and  dyeing the cloth. 

Too slow to unscrew the oil pan plug,
I scald my arms with the car’s spewing
black oil. The mechanic’s blowtorch
points at me for a second. I could be
incinerated in this pit, shaped like a coffin.

The woman’s car is dead now.  It
disgorges differential fluid.
I pour in a serum, molasses brown
to nurture it back to life.
Her engine oil stinks of burnt carbon,
unlike the new gold blood I inject.
Her coolant oozes out pinkish  and

I replace it with orange liquid, but first,
 curious, I lick a drop.  It is

I finish the job, wipe the oil
off black greasy cuts on my hand,
wounded like my faith.

I observe the woman as she sips her milky coffee.

Her car roars to life, the nutrients flowing.
She pays, the wind nips her
receipt out of her hand and

she’s gone, just a customer, a piece
of receipt paper now,
carried away like a voice in the wind,
like Kyle, like the fumes of this pit I live in.

F. S. Symons Ph.D. lives on a large lake with his wife and six children and dozens of ducks, geese, ospreys, hawks, eagles, grackles and other small birds, and of course beaver, deer, coyotes, the odd bear, and Jake, his cat. When he's not obsessing about critters or poetry, he goes off sailing, visiting his vintage car friends, or cross country skiing.