My first French kiss, at fourteen,
was with Margaret Mitchell one afternoon.
I'd never had someone's tongue in my mouth
and had never put mine in anyone's before.
Also she smoked and I didn't—I’d never tasted
that before either—Margaret was fast,
faster than me. I caught up eventually.
My best sport in high school
was underage drinking and driving
while drunk. I am really fortunate
to be here today—I was such a punk!
Not even a DUI stop, I managed to avoid
arrest and never even wrecked a car—lucky, huh?
I know—I must have had a lucky star.
Teddy Webster bought an Austin Healey
and put a Corvette engine in it—a little weighty!
That's what he said he had—I'm not sure
it's even possible, but whatever it was--
that thing really screamed down Interstate 80!
We watched the CHP films in Drivers Ed,
the gory bodies tangled in the twisted wreckage,
but I didn't get that that could be me done in--
obviously those people weren't very good
at what I excelled in.
In the fifties there were two
who went over the high side
in their sports cars, Dean and Camus,
and became more iconic for it--
intellectual, artistic and sex appeal
ended off road in a smoking pile of steel.
The other Dean, in Kerouac's On The Road,
speeding the mind behind the speeding wheel
added the trucker's friends, bennies, dexies.
Ironically the inveterate speedster died
of something by some railroad tracks—jeez,
how nineteenth century!
My 650 Triumph was chopped and stroked--
on the backroads we hit over a hundred,
Sylvia cleaving to my back, her knees clutching my hips,
as one we took the curves in sweeping S motions.
That night in a head-on collision, we crashed our lips
and saw stars tangled up in the redwood trees.
I offer no lesson, one which could be learned,
making me a bad example, a cautionary tale,
had I crashed and burned. I didn't, and that's
just a fact and will not provide a moral tract.
All that my continuing existence proves
is that chance, fifty-fifty, rules our moves.