With you in this old jalopy of ours
by Anis Mojgani
after Jeremy Radin
And even though the storm comin up behind us sounded like a platoon of harpies scrapin shovels across their iron hearts hard enough to make the strings scream, I didn’t even look over my shoulder. We were sittin all blueberries and yellow light at the breakfast table when that wind first came up hard and fast over the hill and howlin like a whole countryside of ghosts crammed into a padlocked barn. When they started shakin the windows, I kept pourin the maple syrup. When they split open the chimney, I put another spoonful of sugar in my cup. But by the time they started liftin the roof, my teeth were rattlin like the pages of a book in a hurricane. But baby my heart was still as a flag folded under glass. It’s cuz my palms don’t bleed anymore. They’re clean. I’m a desert after a hard rain came. For a long time I carried bandages from my last knife fight. But with all them poltergeists comin into my house and touchin my stuff and pokin my elbows––pleadin for me to bend, achin for me to break, beggin to be let back in to haunt me like they used to––I pushed my chair away from the table, peeled the papers off my body, grabbed the magnolia that sure as June follows May is your hand and threw all my switchblades under the tractors. We got the old car started and when we drove down the hill with that jalopy cursin loudly, belchin up steam and oil, that gale of sprits tried to give chase. They did give chase. Poured over the hills like mad bees made of hate and thin-tusked bone, soundin like metal on metal, like bone cuttin through bone, like a city eatin itself through its skyscrapers, angry and hungerin for somethin softer to fill itself with. They swarmed all around the car tryin to get in, stabbin their bodies through the car like it was butter in Georgia–they tried liftin us into whatever dark world they had poured out of. They failed darlin. Well, they maybe got the tires a coupla feet off the ground, but nothin more than that––hell, we were just too damned heavy, you and me. Weighed down in whatever it was we had found inside ourselves and then built between one another. We cracked the spine of our love like a whip. Turned those phantoms into clouds. Clouds of loud screamin power. And then had those horses carry us all the way into town.
Published February 3rd, 2019
Anis Mojgani is the author of five books of poetry, his most recent being In the Pockets of Small Gods (Write Bloody Publishing, 2018). A two time National Poetry Slam Champion, and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam, his work has appeared on HBO, NPR, and in such journals as Bat City Review, Rattle, Buzzfeed Reader, Thrush, and Forklift Ohio. Originally from New Orleans, Anis currently lives in Portland, OR, where he serves on the Board of Directors for Literary Arts.
Joe Scherschel was a photojournalist whose work appeared in Life and National Geographic. Scherschel spent part of World War II shooting aerial photos used to help map Pacific islands. He also covered the Korean War. Later, he covered Fidel Castro's takeover of Cuba. Covering the White House for Life magazine during the Kennedy administration, Scherschel captured such memorable scenes as President Kennedy with former presidents Truman and Eisenhower at the funeral of longtime House Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas.