the museum of americana

a literary review

Two Poems by Dennis Hinrichsen

 

[bel air / 1962] 

all that time I was really engine / head
to the glass /
so I could feel how he worked

the clutch / pushing those rpms
until release /
new surge / moment

of weightlessness /
then the rush back up
until he leveled off in third and

the car was that early / sweet /
American ride / zero down payment /
as blue as the sky was those

gold days / we had no money /
left arm balanced
on open window frame / bleached

hairs kicked in one direction /
there was a place to go
and we were going there /

it didn’t matter / down Center
Point Road / over the tracks /
past the junkyard / city

of crushed fins / broken chassis /
our intention / full tank /
premium grade / jaw rattling

on the downshift / skull
set to glass throbbing
with road / there was a highway

up ahead and
we were going to burn it / not east
to the farm / dead acreage /

home place / but west / maybe /
Sioux City / South Dakota /
open beer between his legs / radio

blasting / drive train churning
like a runaway drill /
drilling what / some shallow seam

of night like a beautiful oil /
pocket of coolness /
all I knew was throttle /

blazing sun / whitewall tires
pounding linked / open
slabs of interstate / the v-8 gunned
 

~

 
[cloak]

—stutterer / teacher of Latin / I know you knew
we howled
behind your back /

those empty / last days
our mock-stuttering Horace /
or some Cicero

on the tongue /
a ploy / even then / to kill your career /
that dead curriculum /

Bobby bleeding out in black
and white /
Chicago burning / Hendrix / already

prince of 8-track / and aimless rides /
down Main Street /
nobody saying

it was Daddy’s car / we were blind
to all that power /
the mortgaged shame / and booze /

each man digested / nobody
coming to save them /
to save you / no one

taking the class / it was the end
of Caesar / grammar /
law /

end of Nixon / all that childhood
getting smashed
out of us /

so that later / when you saw me /
wandering the hall /
alone /

it was perfect cinema / sunlight falling
like a ramp /
to where you stood / me

twirling each tick-marked lock / nothing
catching /
I’d missed the bus /

we had just spent three days / sitting /
around the empty seats /
the two boys /

we all loved / dead /
the blood / and grief of it / still on me
like a cloak

and then the camera zoomed / you stopped /
in your old lady dress /
you stopped /

unmarried / childless / lipstick
dry / a little melted /
you stopped and spoke / offered

such a simple thing / potero delere vos /
can I drive you home /
etiam me possis / yes / you can drive me home
 
~  ~  ~

dennis-hinrichsenDennis Hinrichsen’s most recent is Skin Music, co-winner of the 2014 Michael Waters Poetry Prize from Southern Indiana Review Press. His previous books have won the Akron, FIELD, and Tampa Poetry Prizes. He has also received a 2014 Best of the Net Award and the 2016 Third Coast Poetry Prize. He lives in Lansing, Michigan.