422,742 miles

With thanks to Mark Doty who asked for this.

Onlookers over look it.

Cops miss it as it speeds past their radar.

Co-workers snidely insult it as a grandma car.

The side door pockets crammed with crumpled maps from previous homes in previous states.

The missing hubcaps spun off on freeways in Austin, highways in Oregon, interstates on forgotten trips, left behind as breadcrumbs to lure me back some day.

The edge of the passenger seat covered in waxy blackened grime from my resting right hand as I drive with my left. Or my knee.

The cigarette burn in the passenger seat Joe denies. The slash in the driver’s seat from my new camping knife that I admit.

The crumpled aluminum where my stoned ex-lover scraped my current lover’s shiny new car.

The front bumper that stock car mechanics bolted to the frame after I tore it off plowing backwards down a snowed-in driveway.

The battered shocks from racing through gravel quarries to throw railroad track switches ahead of the unstoppable rock train. The grease stains on the backseat from snide railroad co-workers.

The engine, still roaring, after countless miles without oil.

The memory of Joe grabbing the Oh Jesus Handle to show his disdain for my steering as we swerved over the mountain pass to escape winter gloom and eat burgers in sunshine at the Sno-Cap Ice Cream Parlor.

Tiny clam shells on the dashboard from the retreat to Galveston after Tim’s suicide.

The scraped paint on the trunk door from carrying my bicycle 3000 miles to film 15 seconds of movie at Cumbres Pass.

Sister Susannah en route to burn down her church

The many movie cameos. Sister Susannah driving in profile on her way to burn down the church as an homage to Almodovar’s Lucia riding bitch to shoot her husband at the airport. Aaron gawking through the windshield at the cosplaying bitties whose lives he’ll save in scene 93. Isadora pulling away in the closing credits from her gay son who loves a man twice his age. Denis rescuing 18 dogs scheduled to die at the animal ‘shelter.’ John turning the corner and yelling “Get a job” at a homeless Iraqi vet. Ariel seducing a new lover across the hood. Lynda repeatedly slamming the driver’s door as she re-enacts murdering her husband.

The Kelly’s blue book write-off.

The status symbol dealbreaker.

The presumption of the driver’s social class.


Until 422,742 miles.

Suddenly a hero. A phenomenon. A mechanic’s prize – a new found golden child.

A topic of conversation at Jiffy Lube, a trophy passed around by emissions inspectors.

A subject of a friend’s amazement. A redemption of the driver by ownership.


It is all this. And still, it is only a car.