the museum of americana

a literary review

Buying Used—Poetry by Jesse Breite

We need a car because 
the Ford Taurus I’ve been driving, 
purchased new by my wife’s grandmother 
sixteen years ago, driven up 
and down the east coast, inhabited 
by field mice in rural Vermont, 
shot up in a fatal gang hit at the local CVS, 
has come to its end. And Chuck, 
who wants to sell me a car by convincing me 
he’s human, says he’s sorry he can 
only offer me $500 “due to the minor defects.” 
He doesn’t know I could kiss him 
for saying it and for telling my pregnant wife
she’s beautiful. From what I can see,
everyone here’s waiting to be offered 
an upcharge. Families sit before desks, behind 
loading computers. Emily snacks 
beside me–the baby does jumping jacks 
in her belly. I’m pacing. We’re all 
looking through the glass. Chuck runs between 
buildings and stops in an office 
with a guy who looks mean–a guy from whom 
I would definitely not buy a car. 
I know Chuck needs money because he told me 
he bought his house at a bad time. 
He envies my neighborhood, but he loves his job. 
No one could make me feel more 
heroic. On the test drive, he becomes a child 
by the window. The trees sliding by, 
he tells me to note each feature, to hear the purr, 
to pull onto a side street as if 
it were my own, to turn and turn until fulfilled.  
He wears a ball cap always. I’m sure 
he’s told me lies, and I’ve accepted them all. 

~~~
Jesse Breite’s recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in New Orleans Review, Terrain, and Rhino. His chapbook is The Knife Collector, and he is an associate editor for The Good Works Review. He is also librettist for three of Atlanta composer Michael Kurth’s scores. Jesse teaches high school English in Atlanta where he lives with his wife and son.