Jul/Aug 2005 Poetry


by Tim Peeler


He'd been a race car driver
a local tar and gravel slinger
and then a gospel singer.

Now he's on the phone
and I'm thinking about a budget code,
accommodations for the deaf,

a new version of Kurzweil,
and he's trying to get me to write
a book about him,

telling me about the swing low
sweet chariot days, the baritone
Ford making sheet metal music

against the fourth turn wall;
I tap my finger against a zip disk,
turn my ear into an empty barrel.

He tells me he was trading paint
with Tiny Lund at Hickory when
he went to the ranch—and

yes, yes, I was there, fifteen, crazy,
smoking reefer in the speedway
bathroom while the other rednecks ran

their urine-stained hands
through their early seventies
no-era hair and said damn

yore a crazy sunuvabitch.
But I remember Tiny Lund,
a big bastard in a white Chevelle.

I sat next to his young brother once,
a bragging little mop-haired blonde;
he was a proud arrogant little hick.

Damn, did I feel bad when he bit it,
more for the boy than for Tiny,
pulverized in his white helmet, white suit.

Now there's this voice, these hard stories,
a town and its small track times,
a man that wants to trade paint

with his past, to build his ship
in the empty bottle of my time.


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