It was out on the highway,
the “scenic route”
men always want to take
when they miss their brothers and
want their youth back bad.
A strip of junk yards full of things
men throw away and then love,
spare parts – where they touch
what their fathers loved before them.
They always look out there
for ways to explain the geezer patriarchs –
ghosts of those names hanging over their heads:
Impala, Bel Air, Monte Carlo, Chevelle.
Of course there’s physics to explain it,
but I’m going to say the entropy is manmade, boys.
I’ve noticed you love most
what you ruin and ruin what you love,
grinning stupidly while that chassis
rusts away beneath you.
Let your junkyards overarch you,
oxidize your armor off, let the weather sting you
through ruptured sacristies of steel.
I’ve had enough of this religion.
It’s only eating you up,
swarming you with failed grand gestures,
gored plugs,long abandoned fins, milled cams,
repossessions, semen-stained naugahyde
and accidental pregnancies,
curses over not having the right wrench,
the crunch of boozed-up fatality,
a dumb death at 2 a.m. on some deserted two-lane.
I know you love these wrecks
like your own bad selves.
When I wanted you more than dignity
I used to romp back seats with you and yours
but I’m done, and not because
my back can’t take it.
The compost is my heap now,
where at least the shit has a chance to steam
into something else: ripe tomatoes, an iris.
An Ohio native, Jan Worth-Nelson is a writing teacher and director of the Thompson Center for Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan – Flint. A former Peace Corps volunteer to Tonga, she based her novel Night Blind on a murder that occurred there. She commutes between Flint and Los Angeles with her husband. And she very much appreciates the family story that she was conceived in a parsonage in Cleveland on a Saturday night when the racket from a bowling alley across the street was keeping her preacher father awake.