Ben Myers

That time I slammed the back French doors then kicked
that concrete planter off the deck and broke
my toe, the neighbors saw the whole conflict,
one-sided no doubt, and I was the joke
around the block for weeks, until the Kent
kid took a dump in their front yard. What I
in all my rage and slobber meant
is that I love you. Something’s wrong with my
temp gauge and radiator, which always 
blows up just when the truck gets going. So
I put us up on blocks to sit for days
until you get the parts to make us go
again. The hood is gone. I’ve stripped the gears.
But we can make this engine run for years.

The ice chunks stick, a choking in the throat
of aged, withered water pipes and draw plumbers
out on dead cold days.  There’s a white truck backed 
into the gravel drive next door. Across
the side it says in scrawling, confident 
red, Smith & Sons: Most Trusted Name in Plumbing,
and I remember when the plumber was
just Smith, back when & sons were just two dumb
guys I knew at school, one apt to spend all day
locked in a bathroom stall with a stolen
Playboy. The other’s favorite party trick
was slicking up his denim crotch with hairspray
and lighting it on fire to run through
the party crowd singing Hunka, Hunka, Burning
Love. Two dogs in a wild pack of strays
that all of us ran in. Still, I don’t doubt
the claim the slogan makes. My dumbass friends
have mostly found a way to make themselves
useful. They hammer neatly in the nail
of every blessed year and drink the bourbon
backed with beer of divorces, births, and deaths. 
You’ll see them pouring salt from paper bags
onto their sidewalks and front steps before
a freeze or sitting in their winter coats
in bleachers at high school basketball games, knees 
raised, hands in coat pockets, faces calm and stern.
And though I know it isn’t true, I want now
to say they’re chieftains, kings, every single one.