Weekly feature by: Sissy Buckles

Not sure how long
I can do this,
hanging on by a thread.
I liked looking at the Ellis Island
photos this morning anyway,
and wondering what
new stories those ancient
sojourners would have to tell.
Morning meditation?
I ran for an hour at daybreak
in the rain, hell yeah
and if you have any extra time
stop and loiter
at the construction site
watch them build stuff
I could linger for hours
drive the jeep out
to the heart of the desert
and clear your mind
apprehending the wilderness –
“we cannot be naked enough”
(Namaste, Thoreau)
visit my Julian wolves
back up in the hills
and def not miss the
superblooming wildflowers
in Death Valley then
ponder eternity
whilst listening to Ray Price
Crazy Arms on the jukebox
and a quick stop at
Pete’s Place after the
La Mesa Classic Car Show
because you can whittle it down
in your mind
all you like to just a few
fundamental things
like the sudden comprehension
in the absolute essentialness
of Bob Kaufman’s
Abomunist Manifisto
(sing it like a tragic aria!)
and for instance
do you sell your soul
like a crummy can of soup at the
crossroads, hunkering down
for the highest bidder
like all those fucking phony
leftists who voted for that
imperialist war-mongering HRC
(third party renegade 4life)
and foreverly damned if I do
or don’t
eternally working for
the Man and so bloody
tired of faking it
including the nonstop
nerve-jangling media blitzkrieg
circle jerk
(& heaven forbid we all
miss out on Kim Kardashian’s
latest snapchat who thinks
she gots it so bad
getting robbed
in a luxury Paris hotel?
Rather consider the happy
fate of not being plundered
by ten men at a time in
the South Sudan killing fields)
or should I be
merely content with the
occasional insincere bone thrown
in my general direction
and all these ominous portents
which I inevitably knew were
coming the morning
I witnessed
a bike go down on the
freeway off-ramp
right in front of me
while heading to work
he was able to jump up and
muscle it over while I
blocked traffic from behind
but we both knew we were
Dostoevskian idiots
staring at each other’s
vulnerable skulls, as I’d surely
reached the zero hour
exigency point and left to my
singular wits I would
stand alone
in the middle of the room
like that loca femme fatale in Texas
ignominiously screaming
at the top of my lungs
till I’m blue in the face or hell
I could just give it all away
and learn what my survival
really did depend on,
including poetry because
don’t kid yourself folks,
you will only find true Art
in the outsiders world
just ask Eartha Kitt, conceived
from rape, born picking
cotton on a plantation,
spoke five tongues and
sang in seven or
platinum vixen Jen in a
frilled red vintage playsuit
filing her long nails and baking
in the SoCal sun on a
backyard chaise lounge
her tattoos covered in zinc oxide
never teacher’s pet,
rather the scapegoat
rather the black sheep
gossiping with the chatty mailman
in that charming way
she had, lamenting her bully boss
snarling “and all the flunky
‘Yes Men’ can BITE me!”
and last but never least that
sage young Ockhamist Adrian
up to no good
in the Coachella Valley
whose words almost
saved my life
one long and lonely
Indian Summer night,
I lost my America
years ago stolen by all
the lazy unoriginal takers
of language for granted
(and a person who introduces
themselves as a poet
is a prime suspect in my book)
besides your first big mistake
was deciding it was a
good idea to try and game
a chick who don’t play,
yes I’m talking to you land of
the free home of the brave
of purple mountains majesty
of shameful mass incarceration
fed by modern-day
slave patrols,
of the freshly anointed
Ministry of Truth
Barack Obama’s little parting gift
guaranteed to root out
any and all
Un-American activity,
“come and see the blood
in the streets”
saith Neruda the Prophet,
my original sin branding me
a troublemaker
because I never needed
my daddy’s approval
yet still, gratefully noting the
list of folks who don’t
hate me
after my last Truck poems
to include: hot rodders, musicians,
poets, farmers, librarians,
booksellers, surfers,
Mongols motorcycle club and
the gang down at the Sportsman Pub
poetry mag editors,
course my family, and
this was enough
at least
nobody has threatened
to piss on my grave
(not yet, anyway)
and my only belief the science
of counting my lucky stars.
So I’ll be doggoned if I’m not in
on that build and the
fanciful notion of turning
my sister’s 1934 Ford truck
race-ready for the
Barona 1/8 mile Antique Drags
we’ll dial in that little mama
going fast as
a speeding bullet, see
you’ve got to understand
these guys/gals have been
entrenched in the Cali
counterculture scene
for decades, hmmm you could
say starting with the
WW2 vets coming back
a motley crew
with their knowledge of
general mechanics (and hydraulics
for the lowriders but that’s
a whole other chapter) and the
pilots building cafe racers
which was the closest thing
to flying they could afford,
you could probably also add the
adrenaline rush
they had felt during wartime
and just a means of getting around
for dates and work
like we all need to do
and shoot, just wanting to feel
genuinely alive after so much
misery and death
and the free wind blowing
through your hair
so with very little money
they had to make do with
what they could find
and improve on, go down
to the junkyard dig around
(still a fun trip)
where someone’s refuse
could be recycled and reused;
buy a non-running car for
5 bucks a runner for 15,
lots of elbow grease,
some friends,
hours of tinkering,
hence the beginning of
Custom hot rod world
and course we all know
that folks first impulse is to
stone the messenger
but please
regard this sincere
impartial chronicle as a
simple invitation
to flip your ever lovin’ wig
but that’s a moot point, or rather
the story of an era and
don’t dare
confuse them with
restorers or you are bound to
get the business,
guess every club has to
have somebody to look down on
(aka gold-chainers)
but the dif is these guys
actually work on their cars and
you could say create
as they pretty much can build
up something rad
from nothing,
but I’ve no beef with anybody
do your own thing man,
that’s what I always say….
and the many legends
& heroes & beacons of freedom
that sprung from the tradition,
past and present
just to name a few — you could
start by getting your socks
blown clean off at
Famoso Raceway’s Cacklefest,
and speed records broken
right and left amidst the
otherworldly pristine beauty echoing
off the endless white sandy
glare of the Bonneville Salt Flats,
Smokin’ Mo-Kan Dragway
in Asbury, Missouri, legendary
Top Fuel dragsters
tearing it up cheating death
with steely-eyed determination
through the hellish nitro fumes
at Pomona and Salinas Boyz Cole
and his pops Pat Foster a renaissance
builder and test pilot de rigueur,
a man’s man and a racer’s racer
offering us redemption
under a dirty hood
and this nothing to do with
macho spectacle
it’s all about the velocity, baby
then great googly-moogly
who remembers Big Daddy Don Garlits
doing a ferocious fire burnout in
Swamp Rat 16 and the
SoCal Bean Bandits whose
members originated right in
our own South SD Logan Heights
hood and back in the day
one of the few clubs
that let everybody join,
their all-inclusive nature
incorporating blacks, whites,
Japanese and even Lebanese
members during the club’s existence,
and howzabout artist/pinstriper/car
designer and all around unique
individual Ed Roth of
‘Rat Fink’ infamy along with
his protégées Johnny Ace
and his lovely wife Kali Verra
dancing to their own
monster mash and
all the fellas/their wives,
kids & gal mechanics on the
Jalopy Journal HAMB
& never forget
ol’ Jess getting his start
constructing bikes out of mom’s
Long Beach garage
and just look at him now
sitting on top of the world and that
loveable Germ and his fueled-up
whirlwind-talking Tom Paine common sense
outer limits a mile a minute
always stirring up trouble
for the hell of it and his co-conspirator
cynical scoundrel
Harvester of Bondo (I still
owe his good-looking face a slap)
a modern day Sal and Dean
lordsofhellfire making tracks
and foreverly looking for girls, visions
and kicks and yeah
they’re a little wild but you
couldn’t ask for better comrades
they have each other’s backs
like familia, when anybody
falls down they’d share a wrench,
hand, or greenback
whatever it takes to get them
back up on the bumpy highway
of life in other words
loyal, dedicated, smart
and talented folks and
metaphysical misfits but
I’ll tell you what & this merely an
innocent observation —
take away their gasoline
and guaranteed
they’ll have some hillbillygearhead
moonshine stills jerry-rigged out
back figuring how to cook up
a load because Whew!
they are crazy ‘bout a
Mercury looking oh so fine
gonna buy a Mercury and
cruise it up and down this road.

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