eulogy

with old cars, especially when you buy them second
hand and drive them many years
a love affair begins:
you have memorized each wire on the engine
the dash and elsewhere,
you are overly familiar with the
carburator
the plugs
the throttle arm
other sundry
parts,
you have learned all the tricks to
keep the affair going,
you even know how to slam the glove compartment so
it will stay closed,
how to slap the headlights with an open palm
in order to have
light,
and you know how many times to pump the gas
and how long to wait
to start the motor,
and you know each hole in the
upholstery
and the shape of each spring
sticking through;
the car has been in and out of
police impound lots,
has been ticketed for various
malfunctions:
broken wipers in the rain,
no turn signal at night, no
brake lights, broken tail lights, bad
brakes, excessive
exhaust and so on…
but for it all
you knew it so well
there was never an accident, the
old car moved you from one place to
another
almost faithfully,
–the poor man’s miracle,
and when the last breakdown arrives,
when the valves quit,
when the tired piston arms weary and
break, or the
crankshaft falls out and
you must sell it for
junk
–to watch it carted
away
hung there
wheeled off
as if it had no
soul, no
meaning,
the thin rear tires
and the back windshield
the twisted license plate
are the last thing you
see, and it
hurts
as if some human you loved very
much
and lived with
day after day
had died
and you are the only
one
to have known
the music
the magic
the unbelievable
gallantry.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1984
Source
Original manuscript