First Car

Oct 12, 2017

Today’s poem is “First Car” by Dave Morrison. Dave was born outside of Boston, and spent the early part of his life playing in rock bands in Boston and New York City. He lives in Camden and just released Psalms, his 12th poetry collection.

He writes that the poem began as “a combination of a memory and an experiment with iambic pentameter. But, in the same way an archaeologist brushes away dirt to expose a hidden thing, I realized by the end of the poem that what I was really writing about was my first serious love affair and my failings as a young man.”

First Car
by Dave Morrison

A grille pushed in, one headlight closed as if
Some drunk had sucker-punched it in the eye
Bald tires that we called baloney skins
Bent linkage made it hard to find reverse
A Delco in-dash 8-track and the whiff
Of Armor-all, the cigarettes and wine.

At first it was the idea that I loved,
Of freedom and adulthood, open road.
Soon I learned to love the thing itself
The way it could turn ether into speed
The cast-iron heart that slept beneath the hood
Or rumbled with a smoker’s throaty growl.

But I had not the patience nor the skill
To keep it running when things began to fail
I learned that, mostly, things don’t fix themselves
Or maybe I didn’t want it bad enough
It was, in fact, the Idea that I loved
And not the beautiful broken needy thing.

Poem copyright © 2016 Dave Morrison.
Reprinted from The Whole Megillah: Collected Poems of Dave Morrison,
Juke Books, 2016, by permission of Dave Morrison.