Poem #1 From the Book of the Fearless Age of the American Automobile

Kenneth DiMaggio

         As only delinquents

with a bad ass car like

GTO would know

        —a journey which began

with a case of Narragansett

or Rolling Rock beer

in the trunk

        —an illegality

        you managed to by-pass


         because your old man

          was in good with the proprietor

          of The Lucky Horse Show

          Bar & Grill

                       (whose neon U-shaped sign stopped blinking

the day the first Cat’lick President died)

            Such was the local


            one told too many times

by men whose legend-making days

died somewhere on a Philippines

navy base twenty years ago

            it was time to ride our car

as delinquents

            who learned how to sex up sedans

into hot rods at Trade School

            and as bad girls

who put some devil into their


             by hiking up uniformed plaid

to show the dangerous curve

in a thigh

              and by putting enough black

crayon to give themselves dark

Beatnik Cleopatra eyes

               And with enough power

of four hundred or more

wild and un-corral-able horses

under the hood

              we were ready to go

and to the only place

where we could be

              the basketball size flat top

of a crooked Irish crossed

hilly cemetery

             and with 24 long neck


             and an auto battery

that would let us play FM wah-wah and

wailing rock ‘ n roll all night


that would not be over


until three outlaw

trade school boys

            and three religiously tempting

Beatnik-eyed girls

            climbed on top

of the hood

            and in a space

too small for our Converse or biker-booted

        hugged and held


                             and rolled


if any one of us let go

                      —but we didn’t

            And never would we, is what we promised


             as only teenage factory town fugitives

                         with a bad ass future

at least until it was time

to go back to their world

              and make more trouble

from the way we could still not shed our innocence