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Clay Carpenter


surely that threadbare tire finally will blow if only
because you’re tardy getting to your daughter’s school.
A detour to the garage will get you a new tire
installed in less than an hour for $65 however

what if you pulled into this tiny drive, walled in by this
black rubber mountain, in shaky hand its painted sign:
Reyes Tires. This part of town is safe in daylight, right?

he’s small and Spanish-speaking but with an accent
not South Texas. His smile says you’re not from this
neighborhood, are you? Plucks a tire from the mountain, worn
but not threadbare and rolls it to you: "This is good one."

fifteen dollars, he says, fifteen minutes. Whirs lug nuts off,
kicks the tire to jar it from the wheel, and in ten is done

but who knows who’s more embarrassed when he says
"No credit cards." Who knows if he believes you when
you promise to return with cash, and quickly he nods yes

when you lay the bills in the small man’s hand,
his smile says he lost a bet with himself. "Thank
you," you say, leaning in, making eye contact.
"Any time."

This poem first appeared in Loch Raven Review (Summer 2009).
Used here with the author’s permission.


Clay Carpenter is a newspaper copy editor in Corpus Christi, Texas. He wishes he could spend eight hours a day writing poems instead of headlines. Clay lives with his wife and two daughters, a Golden Retriever, and an ornery cat--all of whom provide plenty of inspiration for his poems.

Post New Comment:
Joe Sottile:
I have to share this with my son-in-law, an excellent mechanic. Thanks.
Posted 09/01/2011 08:22 PM
Long live the narrative poem! After reading it I find myself wishing Clay could spend 8 hours a day writing poems instead of headlines, too. Good one.
Posted 09/01/2011 02:25 PM
What a story! Hope it's true. I love it when the world and poems do as they should! Great poem!
Posted 09/01/2011 08:21 AM
thank you
Posted 09/01/2011 08:09 AM

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