Thursday, October 23, 2014

Muscle Rides

image from 

Muscle Rides

“Faster, faster, faster, until the thrill of speed
overcomes the fear of death.”--Hunter S. Thompson.

It is a natural fact
          that I have the mechanical aptitude
                                  of a fruit gnat, and yet,
                                                god damn yet,
as a kid I still had the burning need
                                 to own muscle cars;
pulsate with that American power,
hum with those twin glass packs, 
feel the heat from the wide-assed manifolds,
to be able to rip up beauteous clouds
                                 of rubber smoke, listening
to the banshee screech
                                 of steel belted rear tires  
                                              being torn to pieces, burying
the cars behind me
in a heroic cloud of blue-black raw nearly-inexorable acceleration,
stalwartly serving
my youthful need for speed.

I once owned
a 1934 Plymouth three windowed coupe
with a tilt-out two-piece windshield
                     that my Dad & I dropped
                     a 1947 289 flat-head Six into,   split the manifold,
mounted on twin carbs, then painted it          ice-metallic blue,
                     that a guy at work fell in love with,
& immediately traded me straight across
            for his 1957 Ford Fairlane
            two-door hardtop, with
            a three-speed conversion on the floor,
            two-toned red & white
                      with thick golden stripes 
                      in the middle of the wide side chrome
& that cool flat hood
that popped up backwards, leaving
                      plenty of room to install a tri-power set-up,
                                                  three thirsty two-barrels
                                                  hooked together with progressive
                                                  linkage, a monster
that could burn rubber for a thousand yards
from a dead stop
as I wore out a brand new set
of Firestones, turned them into
baby-butt baldies in one month,
                            with enough power to jerk your head back;

that at some point just scared the shit out of me,
like owning a rogue stallion that only wanted
to gallop, so
                             I traded it to a friend for
                             a 1941 Chev coupe that he
had put a 327 into,
dressing it up with Corvette valve covers
& a wide shiny air cleaner on the
Rochester big-mouth four-barrel
                             that would suck all the air 
                             out of the county when you put your foot
to the floor, bolted up to a
GMC truck transmission that had car gears in it,
but leaving the stock axles.                I popped the clutch one rainy night
                                    while drag-racing,
                                    & blew the shit out of the transmission
                                    & snapped both axles, making me
                                    gush out of my master cylinders
leaving me with no brakes 
as I hit a hydrant to stop myself. 

Later on, before leaving for LA
to become a famous actor (smile),
                  I bought an Aztec Gold
                  1968 SS Impala convertible,
with a factory four-speed,
& a 396 under the hood, & I drove it so hard,
                  getting scratch in third gear,
                                      pegging the speedometer
                                      running north & south on I-5
                   flying by Jaguars & Cadillacs & Lincolns,
that ultimately I fried
the compression & oil rings,
& had to sell it cheap
to a Hispanic neighbor in Hollywood after
                   I ran out of duct tape to patch
                   all the knife slashes on my convertible top
                   inflicted by other Mexicans who disliked
where I chose to park, but

when those gas prices began to soar
& the gas lines grew longer,
& we were all scared enough
to be conditioned into accepting petroleum rape,
                            I traded in my jet-black Mustang fastback,
                            with the 351 Cleveland fuel-guzzling mill
for a fire engine red Nissan 
with a 5-speed transmission
& my first four-banger romance, & I got to tell you
                             that once you start buying Jap cars
                you get totally hooked on them, & soon
        there is this parade of Toyotas, Nissans, Mazdas, 
Suzukis & Isuzus sitting in your driveway,
                              and those sexy muscle cars of my youth 
                              sat in other garages, owned
by silly wonderful old men, who could not
let go of those thrills, looks, sounds
of American muscle.                         I just snap photos of those cars
                                      now, & (happily) pilot my Toyota hybrid Camary,
                            enjoying my 42 mpg sedan comfort,
                  & only once or twice a week
         do I see someone else’s muscle car, hear it
purr by while racking its pipes,
& that old stirring
kicks up hard. 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over on dVerse Poets MTB

Would you like to hear the author read this List Poem to you?


Claudia said...

smiles... there's something to say about a fast car...ha... though i drive a toyota as well...small one... reliable - un-exciting - ha - my all time fav car is the audi tt - i never drove one though... i just find them so beautiful..

Björn Rudberg said...

Those fast cars are something special.. love all that technical mumbo-jumbo you are supposed to say about a car.. I could actually myself I drive a little French coupe with a 1.6 liter 200 horspower engine... It keeps speed pretty well without that blue smoke from gallons of gas.

Brian Miller said...

you have def had some cool cars..i have never been a car fav car i had was the xTerra, just cause it could get anywhere...and had was solar yellow...though the truck i had as a teen carried quite a few stories...and dents...and more stories....

Anonymous said...

You American boys with your muscle cars ... smiles. We used to make some great sports cars in the UK too; the E-type Jag sits high on my list of cars I would like to have owned.


Kathy Reed said...

Interesting backlog of snazzy cars you've had! I could feel the emotion underlining the list....I learned to drive on a Jeepster.....sure were some good times had in your old cars, as well as some scary ones. At least back then they were affordable as well as cool!

Heaven said...

Well I never knew you like those fast muscle cars Glenn ~ Yes, I am for quiet and economical Japanese cars ~ Enjoyed the look back through your eyes ~


Myrna R. said...

This was fun to read, though I know little about cars. I can relate to liking speed though. My husband always kidded me about getting me a punch card for the police to just punch out my speeding tickets. I've mellowed a lot too. Don't want to lose my license. But something stirs when I see a cool sportscar. That's what I liked to drive.

Mary said...

I really loved reading a history of your cars, Glenn. There definitely is something cool about those 'muscle cars,' and even if a person doesn't want one (any more) I think most would agree they are sexy vehicles. Ha, but I never had a muscle first car was a Chev Malibu. Couldn't be less muscle than that. I'm into Japanese cars too now. Guess it comes with age!

humbird said...

Love to drive too! Appreciate the list/history of your cars. My fav - Camry.

Anonymous said...

This is a man poem. :) It's obviously how much you love them if you can remember all this so vividly. The descriptions attest to the truth behind your words.

I see, in the title, "Muscle" as a noun and "Rides" as a verb. I think the cars represent your own manhood, virility, and strength.

Your line breaks/spacing choices are always so effective:
"of rubber smoke, listening"
"like owning a rogue stallion that only wanted"
"& snapped both axles, making me"

Love the sound in this as I read it aloud: "in a heroic cloud of blue-black raw nearly-inexorable acceleration"

Great metaphor: "baby-butt baldies"

More favorites:
"conditioned into accepting petroleum rape"
"I traded in my jet-black Mustang fastback"
"my first four-banger romance"
"& soon
there is this parade of Toyotas, Nissans, Mazdas,
Suzukis & Isuzus sitting in your driveway"
"& that old stirring
kicks up hard"

Love the ending.

Anonymous said...

What an interesting piece- how one car was a list, and flowed into the next car which was a list, and so on. Love how you started with a Hunter S. Thompson quote and kept that theme of speed alive throughout the piece.

Abhra Pal said...

wow, that is quite a story - I am not a big fan of automobiles - but yes, when I was boy the only Indian car available was big and bulky and powerful - which is now completely taken over by smaller, fuel efficient vehicles - I am not a good driver - but I feel that when I retire, I will get myself a strong SUV and ride on.

Oh and hearing you read this one - was absolute delight.

Justin Lamb said...

Man, you covered a lot of ground with this. First of all, you wrote it in a way that I can smell the burnt rubber and gasoline. Secondly, this is a great tribute to American muscle cars. Lastly, I used to drive VW buses every single day. While I still own one, it is in the garage and I drive a modern, more fuel efficient vehicle now, so I totally get what you mean about changing with the times yet remembering the past.

Anonymous said...

i love the mechanical aptitude of the fruit bat (fruit fly too) and i liked the whole muscle car mentality and the old men who are sooo into it still.

hurricane and jordan

Anonymous said...

Made me nostalgic for my t bird and mustang!

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

& that old stirring / kicks up hard — great lines!

The passion is evident. :)