This funny smell
I smell (which is funnier still
Since I don’t smell much anymore)
Reminds me of lying
In that space above the back seat
Of our ’55 Chevy when I was a kid,
My face pressed against the glass,
Stars sparkling, milky-thick
As that beacon of light the airport
Beamed into the night sky.
I’d watch it dissipate, slip away
Like the road behind and those ghostly
Shadows forever lost in space.
Hurtling above the hum
Of tires gripping the ground, I’d fall
Under the spell of motion and sound,
And that dank, dusty cardboard smell
Of my rear window observation
Berth—a cockpit in reverse.
The green-yellow glow from the dashboard
Back lit the rocket-ship I rode
Out of this world, into the unknown,
Toward the Outer Limits of the Twilight Zone:
Past the flashing neon of Marvin’s Bar,
The pulp mill bright as Cape Canaveral,
Down Frenchtown hill and by The Alcan
Bar then Coy’s Six Mile Tavern. Tunneling
Up through the timber on Cayuse Hill,
We’d spill over and out braking down
The steep grade then bank hard the long
Curve on theClark Fork oxbow sweeping
In front of The Nine Mile House. We’d shoot
Under the overpass and those electric
Joes pulling tons ofMilwaukee rail cars fast,
Race them all the way home to Alberton—
Hot boxes and trolley lines sparking.
My dad would stop at the depot to check
The line up and see when he’d be called
Next to ride a train east or west.
Across the street men came and went
From Chadwick and Boyd’s Tavern
Carrying work grips, lanterns, and paper bags
Of bottles—plodding like the living dead.
Our pilot would drop his crew with the chief
Cook and bottle washer, the one who
Was awakened by smells in her dreams.
She knew he craved the buzz
Of the neon planets, maybe a hand
Of panguine, or the Old Crow at Chet’s Bar.
He couldn’t tell her why he tried to slow
The dizzy pace he stumbled through
To get ahead or behind of what he hated to do.
She knew he’d left before he’d gone to get numb,
One sip beyond “who cares,” take that liquid
Escape into the foggy bog of nowhere—
Just disappear, like magic—leave no scent,
No tracks for the hounds to follow.