Small-Engine Mechanics

All the ones I’ve ever chanced upon
were smug of countenance,
with bad haircuts and shabby goatees,
and they’d don these soiled jumpsuits,
and would somehow fester up
in the grease pits of America
armed with wrenches and air-ratchets
gleaned from hulking toolboxes,
and there was always an oil-smudged photograph
of some Playboy centerfold glaring after them
from the lids of their toolboxes,
and there was always classic rock blaring
from their catch-penny radios,
and they’d boast of being blessed
with innate mechanical abilities,
and the ability to work on anything
with their hands, but working
was always low on their list of priorities;
they liked much more showering strangers
with tales of just how they’d been wronged
by some ex-wife in Pocatello,
or how an ex-boss hid cameras in the parts room
and used the videos as blackmail,
or how some guy named Hound Dog ran off
with their tin snips and hasn’t been heard
from since; they only would mention the hows
though it seemed, never the whys, the wherefores
or the reasons for their wrongful persecutions.
Because those require self-scrutiny, and swapping
their sounding boards for silence.
And that requires the willingness to listen,
and to change, which for them was beyond consideration.
And so it was, and so it always will be
for all of the small-engine mechanics I have known,
their work-benches forever flooded
with weedeaters and everything else broken,
their fingers forever lubricated
by the sums of grease symbolizing them,
their tales merely blobs slathered
with petty harangues and braggadocio,
which couldn’t be poked or prodded
or altered in shape in any way,
they’d just sally forth unabated,
like oil slicks gargling through the sea,
sliming everything in the way,
including the remote chance
of a Playboy centerfold
jumping out of their toolboxes
to save them from

M.P. Powers has been published in Nerve Cowboy, Identity Theory, Poems
Niederngasse, Ascent Aspirations, and The Dead Mule School of Southern

© 2007 Underground Voices