A coincidence here of fire and form:
the green velvet covered vector parades
beside its shadow. Mere interruption,
momentary, in the path of the true light.

Not the house of the rock, but rolling home,
and still the stepping-stone to paradise.
Mohammed shakes the dust from off his feet
and climbs in, awaiting eternity skeptically.

Not the car, not the plastic and rubber
and steel; not even the idea of car,
but the places travelled, the collection
of people who have been there or might have
or wanted to. Glove box filled with maps:
the easy escape at the sidewalk’s end.

She was the pride of Detroit. A decade
of rubbing her gears smooth, of wearing out
her wheels from the inside, defining “round”,
one day to be consigned to cinderblocks;
a mound of moss and rust with gasoline
long gone the way of phlogiston and whale oil.

Not paradise, not the idea of paradise,
but an arrow on the hood, a signpost,
a vector for transit thereto.
A justification for a wide windshield,
a wrap-around drama, a hydrocarbon incinerator,
a combustion chamber for tobacco,
an all-weather mobile stand for ash trays,
merciful cortege across the Styx,
driving on water, hydroplaning.

Not the prophet, but the prophet’s camel.
The chauffeur new at his job, peaked cap
still crackling and stiff, closes the door
behind his employer and climbs in.
No road to infinity, but we’re not asking for that,
just a safe haven, temporary, contingent,
and the delight or suppression of paradox.

March 2, 1981

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