They started out as automobiles but once they turned into Dad’s work cars they existed in a mixed state like plasma or centaurs not quite living but never fully dead and always in need of a jump with crackling cables only to barrel down the road with the muffler clamped on with Campbell’s soup cans, screwdriver jammed in the dashboard to run the defroster, a greasy napkin sucked out through the rusted floorboards you could see the road through, backseat a tangle of beer cans and rusty crescent wrenches and broken pliers, a toolbox he drove past the brown August grasses, smoke rising from his cigarette, the ashtray full to the brim.
Huddled out the back door of the thrift store the death of Capitalism is laid bare: caged without reason behind chain link fencing facing front and ranked at attention a dozen captive soldiers with no battle to bear and wearing identical Grenadier caps of snow. No one will ever use them again, disposable mercenaries heralding planned obsolescence and the death of the noble. Or maybe they’re simply discarded broken home appliances, and nobody’s symbol but my own.
Snow piles up in the night and that’s no image out there, asleep under the bridge.
Two drunk boys laugh under the Higgins Street Bridge, climb the girder arches, hand over hand climb the steel in the dark of night, in swirling snow climb the foot-wide beam across the Clark Fork fifty feet above the applauding rapids climb with chilled hands still drunk but sobering halfway across these boys are no strangers they look to one another for answers they climb under the bridge for this story: one boy turns back and loses his grip his fine-spun wool scarf slips loose and falls, drifts slowly down, twists as it does, lands on the astonished river, then gone. Two boys hold on and wait for better light.
Dennis Held lives in Vinegar Flats, Washington, near a kingfisher nest along Latah Creek. He has published two books of poems: Betting on the Night and Ourself.