Odes to the Internal Combustion Engine
I: Internal Combustion Engine
it must be that all things fall apart
or just die.
or so said some wise man
Lao Tzu, Buddha, or Jesus
some great walker
who knew the purpose of the feet
is to shed the rest of the body
of its sorry destinations
who knew that the great machines
revving on the edge of apocalypse
will have their day
cough steam, backfire
knew that the natives would
take back the engine
in both steel and name, arriving
by the thousands
to claim their cupfulls of rusted
Detroit, to repossess
Son, said the old man,
I am trying to tell you a three-quarters truth here.
I am trying to tell you that Jesus walked on
the moon, Sea of Tranquillity, that
he hopped space junk
in the upper atmosphere
until he achieved lunar orbit,
son, I am telling you to walk lightly
take nothing with you that you don’t need
shuck yourself of everything from the feet upward
become your own traveling song.
When Yen Hui asked Master Kung
What is the Tao?, the old master
laughed and said
someday they will build a carriage that runs on coal
someday they will build catapults to travel across the sea
someday I will walk out this door using my own feet
and not return.
everyone in the world will call for me
but I will not answer. they will saccharin their words
but I will not answer. they will prepare a bed of artificial blossoms for me
but I will not answer. they will build roads to reach me
but I will not be at the end of them. they will build bridges across great rivers
which I did not swim.
And Yen-Hui asked,
"What is a Drive-thru, master?"
"What is an Interstate, master?"
"The gnashing of teeth at 5 p.m.!"
"What is an SUV, master?"
"The horse of family values!"
when you reach the National Park
make sure to
carry in carry out
don’t feed the bears
be careful with forest fire
park in designated areas
don’t swim when the lifeguard is not on duty
don’t pick wildflowers
teach your children well
as ghosts of Kiowa squaws
harvest piniõn, burn trees
shit in the woods
take less than centuries
to hitch-hike home.
when the great plumes
rose over Kuwait
we knew what we had done
our legless god billowing out
a thousand leagues
over An Nafūd.
V: Freedom of the Open Road
we sucked hard at the straw
and called it freedom
this engine of open road.
let us bless it like a baby
cradled in a Michelin tire
siphon the universe for it
grind the Desert into desert
with all four wheels and hell yes
death to all those fanatics who would steal