"Joyride" first appeared in Runes:  A Review of Poetry (Winter, 2006).




Every Sunday we cruised 

in Uncle Jack’s rusted Cadillac,

driving by the sign that marked the edge

of town, honking at stray dogs,

our lives abandoned and hungry. 

Swigging Black Velvet

from a silver flask, he was a man

mastering the profession of debauchery.

His hands cracked, fingernails black

from ten hours a day behind

the dragline, excavating his own heart.


Sometimes he’d drive me right to the ledge

where he could see the future with its long claws, sitting

patiently, waiting for me in the depths as it had

for him.   They’d dug straight to Hell, he said—

our echoes like rocks falling through a thousand graves.  

We swerved along Cemetery Road, buried miles

of silence, twisters of dust flung from the wheels. 

He’d yawn, and I’d shake him to stay awake,

not wanting to stop, not wanting to return

to my mother’s hard voice, my father’s worn belt. 

So I’d lift the shiny flask to his lips

until he jolted back from that numb world, punching

the air, and me screaming, Faster! Faster!

Uncle Jack’s eyes wide, howling the song,

hammering the pedal all the way to the floor.






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