Big Dane

 

Story goes he drove New Hampshire
in a hand-torqued Saab, the old kind,
sewing machine-size engine, and when it fried,
lugged an extra from his back seat,
bolted it in in the big freeze,
snow half up his ankles.

In Massachusetts I found a green Saab shell
missing its own midget engine.
So he wheezed a donor car in place,
twang of it rattled
like a preacher stirring congregants from sleep-walk,
dust and mold kicked up lungs
in the back-pews aching for a smoke,
but the motor sang like a cherub with a hymnal.

Under half an hour he swapped out the two beater engines,
left me sockets to tighten so I could crawl across the continent,
promising one day a fifty or a hundred in the mail.
You’ll be surprised, but I’ll send it.
That cracked him up.

After all, he smuggled that crapper across two state lines
without headlight, license plate or much of a way
to stop but a rusted handbrake, lashed to the ass end
of his own impeccable road warrior,
he dragged the good engine, me, and that dead car
by the dark of the moon,
to my green SAAB shell somebody
abandoned like a bad check.

When I waved so-long, he yelled it was a hoot.
I’ll send you some money! —
maybe a hundred, fifty for sure,
but I never got to it and he, he’s gone now,
under his own power,
never asked for anything
not from me, helpless as a kitten,
nor old friends who wished he’d sewn
together the distance, and, in stitches,
chugged over the mountains.

—Michael Daley

michaelfdaley@gmail.com


Michael Daley’s poems have appeared in APR, New England Review, Hudson Review, Ploughshares, Rhino, North American Review, Gargoyle, Writer’s Almanac, and elsewhere. Awarded by the Seattle Arts Commission, National Endowment of Humanities, Artist Trust, and Fulbright, his fourth collection of poetry, Of A Feather, was recently published by Empty Bowl Press. (Raven Chronicles’s Summer 2016 magazine, Vol 22. Celebration, has a review of Daley’s book by Jim Bodeen, out July 1, 2016. Bodeen’s review was also published in the Pacific Rim Review of Books, Issue Twenty, 2016.) Michael lives in Anacortes, Washington.