Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Improv with Whiskey & Cars by Linda Bryant

That night, a broken axle, sticks
inside me, sweet burnt
odor of bourbon & Marlboros. Drunk
on Wild Turkey, Mama cussed Daddy
out, my sister & I bawling. The two-hour
ride home in the white ’63, the one
with tailfins. My father driving
mute into a downpour. Why

do I like enormous salvage
yards & side roads where tractors
rust alongside crumbling
sheds? Isn’t there music in rust
& abandonment? A country
song in a decaying barn, corrosion
of an old thresher, blackening
husk of an El Camino? Salt

ate mother’s ‘78 Camaro until
the floor fell out & then she offered
it to me as a “gift.” Years later, to make
up for it, when she could no longer
drive, she gave me a perfect, low- 
mileage Grand Marquis with electric
seats, factory window tinting & cruise
control. I trashed it. When unemployment

ran out my husband got 30-hours at the auto
parts store. I sold our beater
& walked to work. I graze still for spare
parts, hunt for a door without rust
or reminders. I can hear mama
yell, Bill, fix the damn Ford. I smash
a transistor to my ear to muffle
their whiskey-fueled scrap. A disc

jockey gripes about Dylan
going electric. My sister’s gone
existential, her head’s buried
in Huxley & Camus. Daddy devours
an unfiltered smoke like he’s trying
to shrink into a chamber of hot
brown leaf & nicotine
& he walks away.

Linda Bryant published widely as a career journalist for over 30 years before devoting herself to poetry. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize three times and won two national writing fellowships.  She lives in Bighill, Kentucky, where she operates Owsley Fork Writers Sanctuary. 


  1. As an artist, I appreciate "word pictures". Linda has artfully painted word pictures that capture such feeling and emotion!

  2. This is so visual. I sat right there with you, staring at the rusting bits of our lives and the courage to remember and write about it. Thank you.


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