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John Rybicki

 

Tire Shop Poem

What we’re all doing is dancing,
gliding under the undercarriage
of this car, our hands trenched
with oil and winter slop that stings
down the neckline of my shirt,
teeth in my pocket because
it’s Christmas time and there’s
Fannie May chocolates
on the front counter. Try and stop
the flesh and it wiggles out
from inside your gloves and
smashes itself against hubcaps
and rubber—Cooper Cobras
and Tiger Paws—those snare
drum skins we slap, tire after
tire just to listen to something
solid ringing back. I catch this
Adam upstart go red hot
beat the clang of pry bar and rim
clamp, swivel deck and hiss
of air he might with his own
breath be, lips to each valve stem,
blowing these tires up so he can lie
down at night with so many people
riding on his breath over snow,
riding on his breath over leaves.
I catch his dare and rubber roll
a tire up my calf and pop
the center cap clamp and spin,
hammer lead weights onto rim
after dizzying rim, lug nut smash
and flick the pry bar one hand
to the next. Fred Astaire in a
tire shop, where we slap our boots
across all that slop to outdistance
fire, outdistance that burning bush
that follows us everywhere.

 
* first appeared in the New Orleans Review

 

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