Driving around Fendershuck, Missouri in the Ford Palimpsest

by Tim Hayes

SHE made me a car out of papyrus
and we called it the Palimpsest. Under
the hood you could find Aristotle in blue
pantaloons, pointing down. When night came
up from the belly of our neighbor's snake, we'd stare
at the moon until the wolves ran dry.
This was a good time in my life, before the banyan
trees irked themselves into crescents, or the Orient
Express became a KFC, or the streets were named
after streets named after stores. Furthermore, etc.
We'd drive around night neighborhoods howling
hieroglyphs through the window slits, two cats
in the backseat: one balefully enunciating the true
name of God, the other trailing tendrils of crystal
saliva in lieu of viscous spew. Carsick. Those days rolled up like
               dilapidated film into a grandfather's
camera, his negative a Mary with bleeding teats.
And there's St. Augustine in Milan hobnobbing
with bootlickers on the verge of a hair shirt.
And there's Millard Fillmore at the Pump & Go,
holding a black hose and a 128 oz. Dr. Pepper.
Walk fast, walk fast. The soliloquy's gutshot
and bleeding proper. In any case, we drove
through space that was no space and made out
like bandits in tinfoil hats (and of all the bandits
I've ever known, those with Manichean theories
of the origin of Cheese Whiz make the best
lovers and milkcows). Milche Kuhe. Ugly, that.
We'd stop at Motel 6 or 8 for the Continental
Birdbath and wet our wings in what turned out
to be hydrochloric fruit punch. Grape. Not much
flying after that, but the speedometer was indifferent
to our third-degree black belts. English is a bastard
language – beautiful like a bastard, too. We met
a bastard near St. Louis -- wounded soldier type.
I offered him a sandwich and he forked me
in the solar plexus. Must have pissed blood
for three days and a fourth night after.
Those cats in the backseat laughed and laughed,
ketchup all over the side mirrors, marmalade
in the Red Bull, sand in the tank of the nearest
bulldozer. It was raucous like a gym teacher
with a Real Doll -- like with yer cock out raucous
if I'm making myself felt. Suede. Down of some
kind. The girl in the passenger's seat breathed
in a pillow so soft it turned out to be alive,
and that was surprising. We had to take it
out back of a 7-11 in Kingston, let it take its course
in Medieval French poetry. Even with the billboards
hawking microsurgical vasectomy reversals,
I never thought it'd come to that.
But even after all the rigmarole was rigged
and rolled away in yellow twine, I watched
the cacti come up in the girl's eyes,
and they were spiny as all-get-out,
which is spinier than Gunga Din,
even after the vasectomy/caesarian
combo salad from Mickey D's. Onward
soldiers, sang the peroxide near
the hydraulic jack, so I kissed that girl
on the mouth and she squirmed into a cup
holder. We got frisky and fricative
for about a nanosecond, when the highway
split open like the End of Days in a children's book.
Clowns fucking everywhere, rising from fissures
in the Purple Mountain's Majesty, above polluted
graves. Who would have counted on that much
sadness in one place? One guy in the back raises
his hand. I show him my card. We shake.

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