William Ford: "Dragging at Richmond"




Staging five car lengths behind the line

of an old fighter strip,

tires spin into smoke and melt

just enough to seal

the very concrete pores

for that moment the whole car flexes.


First one then the other revs

quickly to four grand,

the light falling down the T stand

three rows, yellow, one by one—


everything a ritual of steps

and feel, how the car holds barely

to its disjunctive shaking, the bark

and whine of engine, eyes off

the tach, like now—


for the first hint of green,

clutch pulled,

gas pedal floored

into grab and explode,

then a shift each time the tach blinks 6 K

and maybe the driver’s got

a twelve second “I’ll show you what”

to the tank-topped gospellers,

the shade-tree mechanics,

and all the folks at work and home.



William Ford has published two books of poems, most recently Past Present Imperfect (Turning Point, 2006), and his poetry has appeared in a number of literary journals, including Brilliant Corners, Cafe Review, Free Lunch, Iowa Review, and North American Review.