Scores From the Getaway And the Overcorrection

by Jason Nemec

Night-driving Highway 10 in New Orleans
when a white Mustang ejaculates past
pushing 100-plus sawing through moderate traffic
tires juke like old-school Converse
on the blacktop coasting across the lanes
dancing left, left, left ‘til she’s flirting with
the wall, foreplay like a slid zipper between them –

no hesitation and she punches it,

the RPM needle twitches to the right,
broadcasting the engine’s tremendous electric guitar
distortion, the final note of a solo
bent and held, sustaining above the aching slums,
awaiting the studio fade-out – I too
would have liked it to end that way,
with the car’s crescendo into the small hours,
its muffler exhausting an obnoxious belch
as it devoured the horizon in seconds flat,
taillights disappearing without a trace
of red warmth, their coils cold and unused.

But the shoulder went narrow,
the concrete divider slid in and licked
the machine’s progress, hip-checked her
trajectory; a brief fern of sparks bloomed,
igniting the brake lights right away
this time – I heard no soundtrack, only
some poorly cast conscience calling me stupid
for being half-drunk in the passenger seat
while 50 yards ahead, a speeding automobile
hit the median wall and spun, clenching
a trio of black men in its steel jaw
across four lanes of deceleration and held breath,
missing a handful of screams by inches
before smacking to a halt on the other side.

And I’ll be honest; I don’t know if I
have the energy to tell the rest: the part
where we stopped our car up a little way
and stood in the distance scared shitless
as the flames amped up and slowly
ate the caving shell from the inside out,
overtook it like alcohol in an alcoholic
and I just stood there sweating and yelling
for people to stay away in case the fire
made it to the gas tank, hoping beyond hope
that those guys escaped out a back door
and into the throbbing concert of New Orleans
to crescendo into the small hours on foot.

Jason Nemec is an MFA student at Florida State University.