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“At Every Gas Station There Are Mechanics,” by Stephen Dunn

August 6, 2010

A poem that used to box, and change tires, and eat heroes.

So this week, the very week I paid off my little truck, it also stopped starting: click-click-click when I turned the key.  I called my shop and told them I thought the starter was bad.  Nope, they said a few hours later, you need a new alternator.  They did the job, and I swallowed hard, wrote a check, and thought of this poem.   It’s collected in Drive, They Said: Poems about Americans and Their Cars, edited by Kurt Brown (Milkweed, 1994).

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 7, 2010 9:37 am

    Ha! Perfect! This cracks me up, though I’m sorry for your troubles. I’m glad you’re back in the drive!
    I remember a few years ago, our Honda stopped starting in a stall at a Sonic Drive-In, right there after onion rings and styrofoam cups of pop. I called an unknown mechanic who said he could come take a look. After checking under the hood he said, “Yeeah. You got a bad aldernader.”
    I asked a few uninformed questions because I was concerned about the car and the cost, but I also wanted to hear him say “aldernader” again which he did as he rattled off reasons for a bad “aldernader” and pretty much read the car’s palm.

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