After Long John Silver’s
you still had an urge for adventure, one
we apparently couldn’t fill with hush puppies
and thick-cut lightly salted fries (and dipping
anything here in vinegar is disgusting,
you were always sure to tell me. That’s not
adventure, that’s some sort of perversion).
We crumpled our wrappers, lobbed them
at the trashcan, waved to the pimply cashier
behind the counter, and made our way out
to the parking lot. Your little two-door Ford
squatted there in the lightly falling rain,
ready to jump out at the street, crunch it
under hard tires, take its wallet, leave it
in the dust. At least that’s what we decided
the car looked like. You said, let’s go
faster than we have the whole day, I’m ready.
This Ford, haggled down three hundred bucks
from asking price, showed red wires
through where it used to hold a radio.
Power steering was a long-forgotten dream,
the reservoir a ghost town tucked beside the engine.
Air conditioning was blasphemy or witchcraft,
a mechanical betrayal against the god of older cars.
We rolled down the windows, and light rain
glazed the gray upholstery, shined the hood
like our fish-greased fingers
as we buckled ourselves in. On the street,
rain skittered on the windshield
and whipped out behind us like a silver tail
when you opened the engine up to see
what it could do, to go faster
than we ever had before.
Tyler Sheldon earned his MA in English from Emporia State University, where he taught English Composition and received the 2016 Charles E. Walton Graduate Essay Award. His poem and reviews have appeared in Coal City Review, The Dos Passos Review, Quiddity, and other journals, and his chapbook, First Breaths of Arrival, was published this May by Oil Hill Press. Sheldon is now pursuing an MFA in Poetry at McNeese State University.