UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY
EARL J. WILCOX

A Sprinkling of English and Spanish Spoken Here

The lawn sprinkler crew unloads backhoe, PVC pipe, shovels, rakes,
chatters enough to embarrass a flock of magpies. The crew chief-
chubby, cigar-smoking Black song man of the trio---hums hip-hop,
gospel, Aretha, sings a bar or two of Take This Job and Shove It.
A hot Southern sun beams down upon the boss, chomping seriously
on his stubby cigar, mixes it up with his helpers-an Hispanic
and a white dude in a pony tail and jeans with patches on patches

The sprinkler is laid out like a patchwork quilt of fresh dirt and tiny
vole mountains. When the workers dig in, they dice into an under-
ground network of wires for a dog's invisible fence. Sirens wail, dogs
howl, workers cuss. Scurrying like moles emerging from holes, the
cool workers rumble and scramble to seek the wayward wire. English
and Spanish collide in Tower of Babel talk, three tongues collude,
locate the breach, patch up the break, blend into a melody of hot sauce.


Death of the NASCAR Driver

I

I was conceived in the shadow of a shabby, tin-roof tobacco barn,
parked down a dirt road beneath a Carolina moon. Mama got

knocked-up in the back seat of that '75 Chevy. Daddy's engine
was powered by lust and his love affair with stock cars. He was

driven by his penis and the pistons of a spoiler heart. A carefree
heart, freckled face, trusting son, and superb driver, I was born to race.

My first cradle was a bucket seat beside Daddy, whose grimy hands
changed tires, motor oil, and my dirty diaper. When I was old enough

to park in the same shadows of a tin-roof, softy cypress-boarded barn,
I stripped old Fords, rutted with girls, and spun out of the same Carolina

dirt roads. In the red clay foothills of the Piedmont, my fingers were as
familiar with the chassis of nubile girls as the torque of a V-6, 260 horse-

power engine. I took the pole in my first race, tucking my tale into the
tiny bucket seat of a rusting Camero. Buckling the belt, I gave thumbs

up to the pit crew. Chevvies, Fords, Dodges---all followed the slow,
hearse-like lead car as it cautiously led us one lap around the fast track.

II

I seen him on the third lap in car #34.Mountain Dew green and Cheer Wine
red decals decorated his yellow Ford. He swiped me twice on the fortieth

round, but I kept on track, checking the odometer, while tugging and tighten-
ing my seat belt. By round sixty, my muffler was making a noise like a tornado

roaring out of my ass, but I couldn't stop. #34 began tail gaiting me again.
Lap seventy and I'm still leading. From nowhere, #34 and #22 quickly

converge, crushing me and my car. #22 pulls ahead as I hit the inside guard rail.
On the far turn from the grandstand, Mama, Daddy, Ellie, and Jr. watch. I am

engulfed in my steel womb of flames, locked in my coffin of fire, shocked
by the brevity of the race and the cheating heart of the stock car drivers.

The checked flag drapes my coffin


Bio: Earl J Wilcox is a retired university professor after teaching for more
than 40 years. He has published widely on Frost, London, and many other
American writers. He was founding editor of the Robert Frost Review. His
poetry appears in SOUTHERN GOTHIC, ARABESQUES REVIEW, THIRD
LUNG REVIEW, STRANGE HORIZONS, and elsewhere. His favorite pastime
when he's not writing is baseball, about which he also writes poetry.







2007 Underground Voices