Poetry Dose: Scott Ruescher — “The Carriage”


This week at Hassle Poetry we have a special guest, Scott Ruescher. Scott teaches prisoners through Boston University. His poetry deals, I think, with perfecting a memory, something in our times which is lost, I think. Check it out.


The Carriage


If nothing else works out, I just might go ahead

And travel back on the antiquated carriage of rhyme

That Nietschke accused his contemporaries of hiring

When their thoughts were too feeble to walk on their own—

Buy myself an old-fashioned top hat, a swallowtail coat,

And a silk cravat, pull myself up to a driver’s seat stuffed

With horse-hair and straw, and ride all the way

From the Deutschland of the Übermensch to central Ohio,

Twirling with one hand the ends of my walrus moustache

While jingling the belled reins of the horse with the other—

If it means that I can be tough and old enough this time

To hang around for a while with the beatnik crowd,

Excitable, crude, and loud, and several years older

Than I was at ten, that I looked upon with such admiration

When I was beginning to learn to be a blathering fool

In lessons in delinquency from friends in elementary school.


To be among those kids from hard-working families

Of mechanics and clerks, boys with James Dean looks

And more affection for practical things than books

Who flitted among the cars they worked hard on weekends

And summer days to buy; who spent all their free time

Tuning up their Chevy sedans, adding accessories

To their Rambler compacts, and polishing the chrome

Of their Chrysler convertibles in the asphalt parking lot

Of the Dairy Queen on State Street across from the high school—

I would roll back in the reverie of ballads and sonnets,

Traveling on the cart roads of conventional prosody,

Letting the leather reins of the horse go loose in my hands,

And giving in to the instinct to merge with the secular herd.


I wouldn’t even bother apologizing for the unfair

Appropriation of Nietschke’s notions by the Nazis,

And rather than embracing it as Nietschke did in Turin

At the official beginning of his legendary madness

When he saw someone beating a helpless beast of burden,

I’d whip the horse from behind to make it maintain momentum

The way my ancestors in Saxony must have done

If it meant that I could join those would-be hoodlums

In the prime of adolescence, greasers of clean conscience,

Menacing but for the innocence of their ripening faces,

Who loved gum-chewing girls who smoked to look cool,

And who retained the demeanor, the strength of moral character,

That parents used to instill in their children back then,

Grounded by that practical variety of working-class wisdom

That never gives anything more attention than it merits—


Leaning with those guys against the polished fender,

Sitting on the shiny hood, and lounging in indolent ecstasy

In the vinyl back seat of a souped-up ultramarine Chevy sedan

With shiny steel rims , say, in a tight white t-shirt, sneakers,

And a pair of old blue jeans, crossing my ankles on the headrest

Or sticking my feet out of the rolled-down windows,

Adding my voice to a chorus of giddy young men’s noises,

Exclamations of delight, groans of feigned disgust, expressions

Of sexual desire, with an internal combustion of emotion

That exudes a blue exhaust, not caring in the least

What Nietschke in his cravat might have made of the fact

That this antiquated carriage of mine, parked in the corner

Of the lot near the dumpster, requires a minimum

Of two entire parking spaces, if no petroleum or fire.

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