Every Sunday we cruised
in Uncle Jack’s rusted Cadillac,
driving by the sign that marked the edge
of town, honking at stray dogs,
our lives abandoned and hungry.
Swigging Black Velvet
from a silver flask, he was a man
mastering the profession of debauchery.
His hands cracked, fingernails black
from ten hours a day behind
the dragline, excavating his own heart.
Sometimes he’d drive me right to the ledge
where he could see the future with its long claws, sitting
patiently, waiting for me in the depths as it had
for him. They’d dug straight to Hell, he said—
our echoes like rocks falling through a thousand graves.
We swerved along Cemetery Road, buried miles
of silence, twisters of dust flung from the wheels.
He’d yawn, and I’d shake him to stay awake,
not wanting to stop, not wanting to return
to my mother’s hard voice, my father’s worn belt.
So I’d lift the shiny flask to his lips
until he jolted back from that numb world, punching
the air, and me screaming, Faster! Faster!
Uncle Jack’s eyes wide, howling the song,
hammering the pedal all the way to the floor.