Chrome Histories

(for Zach)

I had a friend who had

a 1956 Bel Air—frame chunky, smooth;

I still feel from its soft head lamps

a hypnotic daze that suggests

every mile, every driveway

it saw since it began

twenty years before I was born…

Didn’t you tell me, once, you wanted

an El Camino: half truck, half car,

your world again swollen with indecision?

But I was always happy to just sit

and listen to you decide—

that story of yourself you wove

out of the cloth of American rust:

the specter of a glory before us both,

as you felt stranded, I guess,

on the island of twenty-one…

And look, I know, I know

how hard it is to be someone,

to find the foothold on thoughts

that you can actually call home,

that grew up beside you and

saw the same television,

roamed the same playgrounds—

thoughts that burn like the little candles

that you found in your mother’s cupboard

that lasted through the rainy November afternoon…

Soot.

Soot.

Candle or car exhaust, it cakes

my hands, burns my eyes—

our days and days chatting online, and

what I’ve left to show for it

is a mouthful of ash

and a muddy old junk yard

with your name on the sign…

Today you look handsome in your El Camino,

but remember, no matter what history you purchase,

we have no choice down which roads time will lead us.

Though, whatever our destiny, I am happy

to tell myself the story of you:

your soft eyes beaming,

your flat chest, chunky and smooth…

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