NASCAR, poem by Perry Higman

NASCAR (Penn­syl­va­nia 500  at POCONO, July, 1998)

To:   Gov­er­nor Tom  Ridge of Penn­syl­va­nia, giv­ing  a guest politician's dull monot­o­ne deliv­ery of the com­mand, "Gen­tle­men, — start — your  —  engines," at the start ofthe Penn­syl­va­nia 500  at Pocono  –

From:   the young  freck­le-shoul­dered man on my right, wear­ing an old black Dar­rell  Wal­trip tank top, hold­ing his sec­ond  half-quart of Bud –

"He just doesn't fuck­ing get it, does he."

 

 

It's a gath­er­ing of Amer­i­cans from New York,

Boston, Rochester and

the South,

an uncount­able crowd

of over one hun­dred  thou­sand, come to cel­e­brate

the thrill of free­dom we feel in work­ing, sav­ing up

for a car,

set­tling into the seat and sens­ing the weight of dri­ving  a steady 70, tank after tank of gas, across the coun­try

on the Eisen­how­er

Inter­state Sys­tem.

 

 

We come in a broth­er­hood and sis­ter­hood

of things we know how to use

every  day –

 

tobac­co, beer, fur­ni­ture, guns, can­dy, pop

and soap –

gas, oil, Ford, Pon­ti­ac, and Chevro­let.

 

 

And we come to wor­ship

our gods

of the open road — Dick, Dar­rell, Jeff, Dale, John, Bill, Jim­mie and Rusty, Ken­ny and Mike — who, like us,

have the same names,

and who, like us,

come from home­towns no one

out­side the fam­i­ly has ever heard of –

Chemu­ng, Kan­napo­lis, Huey­town, Batesville, Owens­boro,  Pitts­boro, Spanaway, Daw­sonville,

Fen­ton and Ran­dle­man.

 

 

We come

in a uni­form of caps, and T-shirts

to sing

with the soul

of the full-bod­ied Amer­i­can car­bu­rat­ed V8, and to hoist

our rebel civ­i­liza­tion

up to the whole world's broad sky,

 

and we flip the fin­ger to sis­sy

com­put­er-enhanced

thrills

and to those who

just don't under­stand the tra­di­tion

of out­run­ning the law.

 

 

We come to cel­e­brate our country's ways — R and D in a smudged spi­ral note­book,

Ter­ry  and Bobby's proud moth­er

sign­ing her auto­graph in the pits,

and men

great enough

to thank the Lord for win­ning

a race and then dance destruc­tion

into the roof

their car.

 

 

NASCAR rac­ing

is the com­mon  poet­ry of hard­work­ing America's

indus­tri­al and cor­po­rate roar, that lets

each of us live the tin­gling thrill of being one

in a riv­er of many, swirling around togeth­er with deaf­en­ing pow­er.

 

I have led a long, charmed life – par­ents who gave me free­dom and a love for wide open spaces, a won­der­ful job where they let me do what I want­ed as long as I did it well, good grown-up kids I keep learn­ing from, a fine wife and a few good friends who've helped me become me through many sad and hap­py times.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to NASCAR, poem by Perry Higman

  1. ginabobina says:

    Love this! Print­ing it & stick­ing it on the fridge. "Thank the Lord for win­ning
    a race and then dance destruc­tion
    into the roof
    their car." — Yah!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.