Poetry is art. Check this out. Think you'll like it
Wrenches clanging, knuckles banging
A drop of blood the young man spilt
A new part here, and old part… there
A hotrod had been built!
A patchwork, mechanical, quilt
Feelings and sensations not unlike those of Christmas mornings long past paid visit to the young man, his head under hood, hands occupied. Did the pleasure of building that Lionel train-set so long ago form some type of pattern in his brain, now being so pleasurably served? The good feelings would dissipate though, as quickly as they came, as he cursed himself for stripping a bolt, or cursed someone else for selling him the wrong part, or the engineer who’s design goals obviously did not consider “remove and replace”. He cursed the “gorilla” that never heard of a torque-wrench, the glowing particle of slag that popped on to the top of his head as he welded, the metal chip being flushed from his eye, and even himself for the burn he received by impatiently touching something too soon after grinding. One day it was “choice words” for an “easy out” that broke off next to a broken drill bit, that had broken off in a broken bolt that was being drilled for the easy out. There was a lot of swearing, daily, but the good and special feelings, feelings known only to those with a true capacity for this type of passion, would always return, and always, of a magnitude that greatly exceeded the physical pain or mental frustration of the day. So with near certifiable obsessiveness, the boy continued to toil soulfully, occasionally gleefully, sometimes even expertly, in his most comfortable and familiar place, his sanctuary, laboratory… the family garage.
And tomorrow would be the day.
Fire extinguisher? “ Yep”
Battery? “Charged and connected”
And with hard learned expertise, a thoroughly confident, supremely happy young man commanded his creation to life.
He held down a button while flipping a switch
Woke up the neighbors with that son of a *****
The heart of his machine was a stroked Chevy engine that everyone had just grown sick hearing about. Even the local machine shop to which the boy nervously entrusted his most prized possession had had enough. “Sir, I don’t want to seem disrespectful, but from what I’ve read in HotRod magazine, you might be suggesting a clearance too tight for forged pistons…”. One must always speak politely to the machinist, and even though he always had, the usual allotment of contradictions and arguments had long run out. But in the end, his mill was dead-on. And from the start the shop knew it would be; that’s almost always the case. That’s how they stay in business.
The seasoned old engine block he gave $100 for was measured and re-measured, inspected and re-inspected, shaped and cut, smoothed, then even roughed in certain areas to allow new parts to “work-into” each other. All with a level of precision far greater than the old iron had ever received at the factory, on its way to a life of labor in a ¾ ton work truck. The old engine would soon be singing in an entirely different tune. The block was filled with new and strong parts that cost the young man everything he had. Parts selected with the greatest effort of decision and debate. “ You can compromise on paint, live with some rust, wait for good tires, but never scrimp on the engine”, he would rightly say, demonstrating his wisdom while providing ample excuse for the rough and unfinished look of his machine overall. Now today, with the press of that button, his creation voiced to him, loudly, in a telltale, broken staccato language, he understood. It sounded…good.
He uncorked the headers, bought gasoline, dropped her in gear, tore off to the scene
Camaros and Mustangs, an old ‘55
Obediently lined-up, to get skinned alive!
Verse II (1st person)
I drove past the banner that said “Welcome race fans” a new route this day, behind the grandstands
And through my chipped window, I thought I could see
Some of the racers were laughing at me
I guess rust and primer are not to their taste
But I put my bucks in the right place
I chugged and popped past what dealers had sold
Swung into a spot, next to something old
Emerging with interest from under his hood
My new neighbor said two words, he said, “sounds good”
The ’55 I parked next to was “classic rodding” in its outward appearance. The much overused “primer paint job”. The hood and front fenders a fiberglass clamshell, pinned affair. Dice hanging from the mirror paid homage to days the driver never knew, but wished he had. He removed them before he drove, always.
If you know how to peel the onion, secrets are revealed. Wilwood brake calipers can be a dead giveaway – someone needs stopping power, maybe. Generally, owners who have sprung the bucks for this type gear let the calipers show off in bright red, to make a statement. And sometimes it’s just a fashion statement. There is an old saying “no one buys woah without go”, but that’s no longer true, expensive calipers, as eye candy, are all the rage. What is true, however, is very few spend big money on apparatus like this only to render it inglorious and seemingly common with a shot of gray paint from a rattle can, and the owner of the ’55 had done this. Two things are at play here- one, he needs those heavy brakes because he’s fast, and two, hiding them fits his style. Really, the message to be found in the gray paint, so cleverly applied to let your eyes simply slide across on their way to something interesting, was “sleeper”. And sleeper really means, he’s one of those drivers with a score to settle - with everyone. The list of “real power” parts grew, if you knew where to look. Something I held defacto permission for since my rod was undergoing a similar scrutiny.
“Stroked?”, I asked. That’s something you can’t see from the outside. “ No”, the racer replied.
“Hundred shot?” (If engines have their language, so do the people who love them). Despite great effort to conceal braided fuel and nitrous lines, electrical solenoids and switches, to the owner’s obvious annoyance, I spied his system. The chunk of aluminum posing as an ordinary spacer under his carburetor was anything but. “No”, was his one word reply to my 100- shot question. I tried again; “Your nitrous, how much are you shooting? ” “Two hundred fifty”, he said. That’s more like it, I thought, and that told me also that he too had budgeted well for the machine shop – if not, he was gambling in a game that if lost, could fly parts from his engine bay. Based on the overall vibe of the scene, I believed his build was up to the punishment he planned; his mill was used to the beatings. I knew exactly what this tight-lipped guy was about, seeing someone very familiar in him as it were, and that made the “sounds good” complement I received upon my arrival all the more valuable.
The voice on the loudspeaker tells us we’re up.
Pre-staged, staged, then given the green
The line becomes blurred between man and machine
Bones become linkage
Time distorts ….
Color disappears …
Noise --- becomes music
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