Article 7: Wright Engine Rebuilding

In North York, on a street full of warehouses and vacant lots, there’s one lot crammed with cars. The cars don’t drive. They’re kept outside and collect rust and a few of them no longer have doors; their engines and batteries are missing.

I build them from scratch, said Bill, walking through the lot. Take them apart and put them back together. That’s what a car is, it’s just a bunch of pieces put together. 

Such pieces are strewn across the lot: cylinder frames brown with rust, metal barrels, buckets of brown goo, boxes, license plates and unidentifiable parts. 

Also in the lot is a metal machine standing in the corner, half covered in a white plastic tarp billowing in the wind. 

That thing? That’s a drill presser, says Bill. I’m holding it for a friend. Mind giving me a hand? He’s speaking to two young men, two trespassers he found shooting a film in his lot. They were rehearsing a scene when he found them. Oh, hello, sir, one of them said. 

Bill hobbles to the drill press, carrying his weight, watching where he steps. I’m diabetic, he says. In the summer the heat was so bad the insulin didn’t work. I had ulcers on my legs and on my foot. They’re healed now, more or less. 

With the young men’s assistance, Bill pulls the tarp over the drill press, and picks up bricks and other objects to hold the tarp down. It’s a cold, nippy day. 

You can take that, he says. He’s referring to a light stand that one of the young men has picked up and is inspecting. The young man puts it down. 

A shutter clicks. For a brief moment, Bill looks into the camera. He’s a large man, and wears a dusty, navy blue windbreaker that hugs his round belly. White wiry strands of hair form a bush on his chin; the hair sprouting from his balding head is wispy and sere. 

If you need anything, I can give you my phone number, Bill tells one of the young men. 

The young man pulls out his phone and Bill tells him his phone number. You can visit or call any time if you have a question, says Bill. They shake hands. 

As the young men are leaving, Bill smiles and asks a question: Did you get what you wanted? The one holding the camera answers: Yeah. I think so. 

The backdoor that leads into the warehouse reads Wright Engine Rebuilding. The name is scratched in, as by a metal key. Bill opens the door and steps out of the cold. Shelves that touch the ceiling line the walls, full of cardboard boxes and torn packages and paper coffee cups. A rolling hill of tied grocery store bags and materials takes up the room, ceding only a narrow passage to cut across. 

Shutting the door behind him, Bill reenters his hidden, private room.

---Daniel Glassman

Poem 4: today i carried the question...

today i carried the question
in crimson supercars
i looked at doormen
felt ballet dancers swarm the streets
maidservants plot assassinations
saw a man have a fit
and heard a report on that streetcorner
that firemen removed his prostetic arm

there's a skeleton inside me right now!
tell that to your girlfriends and boyfriends
have them buy you dinner and look in your eyes
oh Zibeline, my true love
you no longer look at me
you are afraid of me
badaba badaba badaba gorille!
ugh, today is my true enemy
- i confess all my sins ok
i sold everyone out to the highest bidder

Poem 3: For as far as I can look back...

For as far as I can look back
I have always been tired.
It is hard to look down the
well if memory and see events
in sequence
as if falling up
through a tunn.
Can't I see outside of shapes?
Even outside the tunn
I am within a wall
of words
and paths entrenched
in my processes.

A distraction.
I fail.
The bricks of the tunn
come apart
piece by piece.
It is a long job to
complete. I give up
every night. Try
again in the morning.
My arms are thin.
In my pursuit of the warren
I am trying to build
I atrophy. Nothing eats at me.
I eat air.  When thirsy I
drink the blood of the beetles
down here (they are the only
visible creatures to accompany me)

What of the open world
that sprawls like the infinite
spokes of a spinning wheel?
People. Creatures. Surfaces.
The very flesh of the world
seems to be fine without me.
It wants nothing but perpetuity.
Which happens to be our opposite.

Forget that. Stay in the tunnel.
Burrow. Pluck the bricks.
Sing unmade songs
tell stories once
make riddles
invent sounds
mold the crumbs of
brick and mortar
into into into...
Sigh. Surrender.

Wake. Work.
Pestle the crumbs with your fingers
read the walls and furrows
know your hand
know your touch.

The beetles are so kind
and gentle. They live only
in the dark. They leave
kisses on your arms,
cuddle your knuckles.
They raise you
to enjoy blindness
down here.
Oh beetles
I love you.
I can scream it.
I can finally scream
below the Earth.
I can finally
swear off clothes
and all possessions
starting with 'my'.

Is that what i came down here for?
Or was that an excuse?
I think so.
A reason to be a refugee.

But i have learned to move bricks.
Water spits out the wall.
A small squirt.
Have i begun
to break the tunn's
Will i drown now?
There is water at my ankles.
Now my knees.
I look up.
The break in the dark sky
Is too far. It is a star.
Inside the star
is the open world.
It doesn't concern itself
with memories
or old bricks
or burrowing.
It is far away
and the water is at
my waist.

I float. I am eight years old again.
This is it. The bricks give way.
Memory unfurnished
and ugly and exactly
as it was in seconds
and minutes and in
shared time
and clock time
and my time.
I laugh and choke
and struggle
under the deluge
Which is mean
and pushes me
down further
the tunn.
I cease to protest
Find the water warm
and benevolent.
Like a reprisal
of my earliest dreams.

---Daniel Glassman