Valiant

Valiant

 

The car sat in the side yard

after a constable told my father

to get it off the street.

We mowed around its rust for years,

watched the tires sink

with spider cracks and the vinyl roof

peeled by a decade of squirrels

until a mullet head from Nazareth

pulled up in a Firebird,

gave us thirty bucks to take it away.

Said it would make a great target

at the demolition derby.

I went to watch it happen,

a hundred bucks to the driver

who could total my grandfather’s Valiant

now resurrected with bright paint,

a bull’s eye drawn on its side.

So with shouts from the bleachers

each driver sideswiped

another piece off the car.

One Malibu limped away

with a bumper caught

in the axle, then an El Camino

with eyes painted on the hood

came at it for the final finish,

and my grandfather’s ghost

straightened his back

like it was before the wheelchair,

put all his weight on the brakes

and let that prick know

he wasn’t about to budge.

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