Chicano Poet

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Henry’s Elegy For The Intimidator

During the last months of his life, Dale Earnhardt fought
vehemently against the use of head and neck restraint
systems in Nascar racing. One such device had been in use
since the late 1980’s. It could have saved his life.

Everyone’d thought there was a driving master,
There really had been some supernatural essence
who regarded human beings as an excrescence.
from Ko, or A Season On Earth by Kenneth Koch

Earnhardt went head-on
into the Turn Four wall
and broke his neck,

they called him the Intimidator
because he drove a car as if he was driving
death away from the accelerator,

once at Texas World Speedway
during an ARCA race
he cleaned the walls of dust

trying to chase down Waltrip.
But in the end he fought the law and the law won,
he didn’t have a mark on his jaw one.

His neck sure dangled,
“Vats dat, soming new-fangled?”
asked Mr. Bones the bone specialist,

but Earnhardt didn’t answer.
His car came to rest on the infield grass,
a hundred fifty thousand fans stood as God kneeled,

looked into the car and said,
“Your racing days are over, you good ol’ boy!”
In a race with God, God always comes in first.


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