Primitive Men

by Michael Earl Craig

Michael Earl Craig

I am driving up a mountain pass on my tractor,
a blue plume behind me, when I spot
an abandoned car on the side of the road
with no license plates. I am just cresting
the pass, my speed has slowed; I could almost
step off this tractor, I think, and start over,
and try something totally different,
like breaking both my ankles, I think, because
stepping off a moving tractor is so different
than say stepping off your back porch,
and the car is on blocks and all the wheels are gone.
A cop has written all over it with a bold wax marker.
Indecipherable marks.
A kind of code for wrongdoing.
A kind of cop graffiti.
A performance piece with walkie-talkie.
A spirited, campy little number
with dress blues and billy clubs… it
is not for me to say, for I am Bob Taft,
driving my tractor over a big hill
past an abandoned car that reminds me
of a man I met once in a bar
who told me he'd passed out drunk once
and his wife wrote all over his face
with a Sharpie. When he got up later
he walked around for half a day
not knowing what had happened,
then had buddies over to watch the Rose Bowl,
which is what caused him to wait, he said,
and he drummed the bar with his fingers
as he said this, for almost a year
for his wife to get drunk and pass out
so he could "take her temperature the hard way."
And this, he said, was "just what the doctor ordered,"
which seemed highly unlikely to me.
Who is your doctor? I said.
And he looked at me for a long time without speaking.

Last updated December 07, 2022