I was working on writing a poem about my hometown junkyard and the yard owner’s daughter – a beautiful girl. The only roadblock was meshing the two. Then, while watching a documentary on Greek mythology one evening, up pops the statue of Perseus and Medusa. Subsequently, up pops an idea: converting a junkyard character into Perseus and the owner’s daughter into a goddess. The only problem: how do I keep to the Perseus/Medusa myth and adapt the myth to a poem about a junkyard? The answer: spare parts.
Is the widow, Rosalee Tait,
Still selling her husband’s tired iron?
Rows and rows of iron
Side by side
Front to back
Stacked one on top of the other
Exteriors of blistered paint, rust, broken glass.
Interiors occupied by mother nature’s creatures.
Black snake, field mouse, and cricket
Seek shelter in stained, torn and battered upholstery.
Thistle, briar, and nettle fence in
Bumper, fender and door.
Tired iron holds treasure, also,
In the form of parts.
Rosalee has and sells these…
Used of course.
Her son, Ransom, is employed for
The search and taking of this treasure.
A call comes in.
Someone’s restoring a Buick.
A carburetor is needed for an old Roadmaster.
Taits have an aging Roadmaster – a ‘48
Ransom prepares for battle.
Tired iron does not surrender its treasure easily.
A greasy ‘Mets’ baseball cap
Is Ransom’s helmet.
His Tunic: a sweat-stained cotton undershirt
Footwear: cracked, black leather combat boots
Leggings: jungle camo fatigues
Breast Plate: a mechanic’s shop apron
Ransom girds his loins with a leather belt
And the tools of his trade.
Pliers, wrenches, screwdrivers,
Mallet, wire cutter, are but a few.
A can of WD-40 goes into his pocket.
A warrior ready to go forth.
He surveys the field before him:
A skirmish line of Plymouth and Dodge mask
A phalanx of Ford and Chevys
Protecting motor world’s royalty…
Cadillac, Lincoln, Chrysler and their princes
Buick, Mercury and DeSoto.
Ransom locates the ‘48’s position.
He strides forward,
Into the skirmish line,
Through the Ford and Chevy line of battle,
Pushing aside briar and thistle,
Until he stands before the Roadmaster.
He accepts the “waterfall” grille’s
Forces open the hood.
A Black snake races off the straight eight
Engine block and escapes through
A hole in the firewall.
A rusted-bent air intake
And filter assembly
Sit on top of an engine
What was once painted Buick blue.
Underneath lies the object
Of Ransom’s mission.
With a blow from his mallet
He dispatches the offending air assembly
Exposing the ‘48’s carburetor.
A generous application of the WD-40
Persuades rusted machine screws
To release their hold.
With his task completed,
Ransom emerges from under the hood.
His right hand hangs at his side
Holding a flat-blade screwdriver.
From his shoulder, his left arm and hand
Stretch out holding the carburetor
Still dripping WD-40.
Ransom stands victorious.
Gary Williams, January 2019