Bray Auto Parts (Houston, Texas, circa 1976)
by Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue

On the long, long counter sit three black
Delco ashtrays – already at 10 brimful with
cheap cigars, bent cigarettes, gray ashes.

Go-Jo's pumice smell permeates the air.
Along with thick layers of dust & oil-caked heads –
Mopar, Chevys, Buicks, Fords: all are equal here.

Tailpipes hang mute from the ceiling
like Calder's mobiles. Sparks fly
as I clean an oil-encrusted valve.

A phone call, a mechanic
needing a water pump.
When? “Last week would've worked.”

I thumb through a humongous catalogue,
jot down the number, grab the box,
make out the sales slip, and run to the Green Monster,

a half ton '72 Chevy. Blast off!
CB radio spewing its staticy argot.
My arm cooled by the side window
positioned just so.

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