Bottle Rocket Ars Poetica
And if we banged
into the absurd,
we shall cover ourselves with the gold of owning nothing.
I wonder if the great poets ever had this problem
I think, as a bottle rocket cuts a hole in the night
next to my right ear. Sure, Wilfred Owen
was pinned down more than once, and Pound
found his gods in the landscape outside Pisa,
but neither chose that. I step out from behind the corner
I’m using for cover, and set light to the fuse
of another scream, this one leaving a shower of sparks
as it skips off the screen door he’s hiding behind.
We’re the only people for miles.
Yeats was a dreamer and Dylan Thomas was a drunk,
but neither was this stupid. Soon, very soon, we will tire
of banging into the absurd. We’ll go back inside
to grab another beer from the Farmhouse fridge
and we will drown ourselves in gold.
I’ll leave it for tomorrow to find the poem—
the combustion of tiny fireworks,
the new hole burned through my favorite shirt.
Color of a Metallica album,
I can almost see the lack
of shirt sleeves and good sense
due at signing
on an El Camino like this.
How proud he must have been!
How sensual that first touch
of chamois cloth to sheen,
tracing the seam
around the driver’s side door
as if in blessing.
He must have felt
like he had two cocks
when he’d rev it to redline,
dump the clutch, and peel
a strip of hide
off the gravel drive,
the pull of inertia
or some other fundamental Law
he didn’t comprehend
yanking him with a lurch
toward the main road,
and the highway that leads
to all highways.
The car was all she left him in the divorce.
She had always said he spent more time with it,
and now he wouldn’t have her to stand between
him and his one true love. She was cheating on him
but didn’t want to admit it. So he lost himself
in its intricacies, the delicate interdependencies
of a harder heart than his. That summer he dismantled
the entire engine block, cleaned and polished every piece
with a relentless eye—then rebuilt the whole thing, just like new.
This is the part of the poem where I’m supposed to say
his catharsis was complete, that he managed to repair
the broken-down wreck of his life—because hasn’t the car
been a symbol all along for his psyche?
I don’t know. All I know is that, come fall,
that El Camino may have looked a little beat up
on the outside, but under the hood it ran like a Swiss watch.
Like something that hadn’t been pulled apart inside. Like new.
And that he sold it to Brandon for fifty bucks.
And so it is written,
in algae-colored spray paint
against the flat black primer
of the rest of the body,
tattooed across the dented tailgate—
only slightly more garish
in its audacity
than the skull and crossbones on the hood.
Brandon is a collector
of stray cars, in the same way
some people choose pets
they see themselves in.
After Amber dumped him
to marry her second cousin, he wanted
to celebrate mediocrity.
He wanted to own a stereotype
he could beat the shit out of.
So he gave that car the worst half
of a paint job, got drunk
every day, and took it out
on the roughest roads in the county.
Funny thing, how love can echo
itself. Like hand-me-down clothes
that never quite fit right.
Funny how they tell alcoholics
that the definition of insanity
is repeating the same action,
expecting different results—
but fail to mention that flipping a car
into a river in January isn’t too sane either.
Funny how blurred the trees are,
how riotous the engine pounds
with the hammer down,
as he speeds home to the Farmhouse,
The Black Album
blowing the speakers out,
windows wide open, almost doing ninety.
Glenn Hollar is a biographer's nightmare. Not for the reason you're thinking. This much is certain, though: he received his MFA from the University of Maryland in 2011, he currently lives in Tampa, FL, which he's not entirely convinced isn't hell in disguise (what happened to the mountains?), and he has had one of his poems published in Inch. Which is exactly the amount of newspaper column space his obituary will occupy.