Camaro

At seventeen he got a job,
convenient store, across North Main
from Marshall’s, Mobil, PowerTest.
Behind the counter, skinny, bored,
the graveyard shift, cash register,
gum, cat food, milk, and cigarettes,
he dreams about a ’69 Camaro.

The night wraps black around the store,
reflections in the window show
the aisles of Pampers, soup, and chips,
a rack of discount paperbacks,
and pantyhose, cheap sunglasses,
the freezer and the dairy case,
young clerk who dreams a ’69 Camaro.

Lonely, with no customers,
lonelier even when they come,
’cause no one sees him, no one stays,
all in motion, destinations,
stopping just to buy some smokes
or Lotto, milk, or motor oil
(to lubricate a ’69 Camaro?)

The morning cashier’s Beverly,
she’s someone’s sweet Italian mom,
she wears a shag, false eyelashes,
blue eye shadow, she smokes too much,
it keeps her thin! she always laughs,
her son’s autistic, no complaints
she tells the teenage boy who dreams Camaro.

At 2:15 Christine Perrine
a quiet, budding, brooding girl
his triumph is, he makes her laugh
the glasses make her eyes so big,
her cash-out’s always on the nose,
one day she’ll take men’s breath away
and won’t recall the boy who dreamed Camaro.

The owner shoots the sidelong glance
suspicious of each customer
he counts and recounts every coin
no trust for those who work for him,
the weed has made him paranoid
his wife betrays him with the smile
she gives the new kid, dreaming of Camaro.

From seven on he rings them up
the stream of people, thinning out
until by ten the only ones
are tired, red-rimmed, dinner-cold
or on their way to graveyard shifts
their money spent on diapers, beer
and day care, not on ’69 Camaros.

The world inside his head in fact
is realer than the empty store
is realer than North Main at night
is realer than Christine Perrine
his hope, desire and lunacy,
his ignorance, his buoyancy,
his blood the gasoline that fuels Camaro.

somewhere a small-block Chevy sits
somewhere his father hacks and spits
somewhere the suit that doesn’t fit
somewhere the options, counterfeit
someday he slams the factory Hurst
from lifelong neutral into first
he vaguely plans
a ragged stand –

Camaro.

convenience store

QuickieMart

It was a job, he was paid to be lonely
customers slowed to a trickle as the night
wore on. He was saving up for a Camaro –
he rang up cat food, baby formula, cigarettes
inside the store time stopped, while outside motion
hummed in all the wires, even thought the street was dead.

Even though North Main was dead
Mobil barren, Exxon deserted, PowerTest lonely,
he drank bitter coffee and dreamed of motion
a noisy bullet ripping the night
Thin Lizzy, Jim Beam, cigarettes
a destiny-seeking missile, ’69 Camaro.

He knew, somewhere deep, that this Camaro
was a second-hand dream from someone long dead
you can’t survive on delusion and cigarettes
the voices on the radio only made him more lonely
he knew his dreams wouldn’t last through the night
like a freezing man, his only hope was motion.

So, static in the store, his mind was in motion,
wiping his hands on his jeans, slamming the hood of the Camaro
thinking “this could be the night,
only this moment is alive, my world is dead,”
thinking, “how can you be lonely
with rock & roll and cigarettes?”

Easy.  Rock & roll and cigarettes
and Jim Beam and motion
can be pretty damn lonely
with or without a Camaro
when your soul lies dead
in an airless night.

It was a job, he worked the night
shift, ringing up milk and lotto and cigarettes
the singer sang ‘ready ready ready’ but the singer was dead,
a fly and the clock hands were the only motion
If only he could save up enough money for the Camaro
He wouldn’t be so lost, so lonely

He closed his eyes.  He had to put his plan in motion
For $475 he could buy Joey Hoyle’s ’69 Camaro
The door opened.  The phone rang.  The radio played ‘Only the Lonely’.

%d bloggers like this: