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Cars That Go Boom

cars that go
scrape the ground
you feel every groove

the pulse of the bass
carries you through the streets
that you are so excited to ride down
in that black lowered mini-truck
that goes

but these are the poor boy rods
not the ones
with glossy lettered rear windows
in hot pink and turquoise
like the Aqua Net can
that she carries in her backpack
spray spray in the morning
groggy shufflin' of slippers
the father swears
she's killing herself with that poison air
and taking them all down too

how to know you're a red neck
if you think bond-o is a color paint
never been to my neighborhood
where bond-o flags
that the wind can't move
lay crumpled in driveways
where Mexicans eat rednecks for breakfast
in their Menudo soup hangover broth
that the mother pops
out of the can**
in the Sunday aftermath

so glamorous those cars that vida
like the Sheila E. song
sparkly and forbidden to ride

but once you're in
its not all that special really
it's actually kind of uncomfortable
feels kind of wrong

like the bottom shouldn't be
so close to the ground
and what if he doesn't really like her
she can hear the metal
but the bass is too high
and all you feel is the throbbing
and picture
the windows bubbling out from the sound
like in a cartoon of a spaceship

te buscan
they are calling you the father says
when the familiar vibrations
shake the house
it's like
a mating call

pointy shoed dj wannabe
too much gel in the hair vato
wants you and he asks hey
you like the cars that go

when the ride is over once you
get out
you feel just like that old school jam says
like Expose revealing
what the Cover Girls are hiding
with the female
always heart broken
always hard spoken
feels like she's been dragging
more than cruising
more than loving

later you find out
all there is to like
about the cars that go
is the memory

*yes as in Tigre and Bunny. Poem inspired by Cars with the Boom, by L'trimm, 1988.
**Well, we're Salvadoran, so it was out of the can for us. Can I get a witness?

This poem won the Academy of American Poets William Carlos William Prize, 1995.

 From the Calaca chapbook, Razor Edges of My Tongue by Leticia Hernández-Linares.
Copyright © 2002 Leticia Hernández-Linares.