Poem: "Autobiography of the Cab Driver Who Picked Me Up at a Phoenix Hotel to Catch a Four A.M. Flight and Began to Speak in (Almost) Rhyming Couplets" by Rebecca McClanahan, from Deep Light: New and Selected Poems, 1987–2007. © Iris Press, 2007.
I got two problems.
One, I never see the sun
and two, if I did,
I couldn't take it, never could.
Now, my sister? Out one day
and brown the next. That's the way
my father was. We never
took vacations but he used to steer
on Sundays with one arm
out the window. Get dark as a black man.
Something in his blood, I guess.
Once I bought me a mess
of tanning cream, but something
kept me from using it.
He's been dead a whole
year. They say there's not a soul
on the streets this hour,
but the souls are just now rousing.
Yes Ma'am, when I see daylight I slide
into my coffin and close the lid.
Cooler that way. They say if you can survive
a summer in this heat, you're a native.
My brother's child? She claims to be one,
but I tell her she's got Made in Japan
stamped all over her keister.
Hey lady, you still on Eastern
time? You can have it. Yesterday
the TV reporter in Cincinnati
was three feet in snow. I phoned
my old drinking buddy back home
to rub it in. Lied and said I was out
today without a shirt. Barefoot.
He said you can keep those hundred
degrees. I said you don't have to shovel
a heat wave. Young lady, you okay?
Looks like you're fading. The longest day
I ever lived was the night
I left for Vietnam. What a sight,
would you look at that? Damn
jackhammers at three a.m.
They sure like to play in the dirt here.
Yes Ma'am. It's the same everywhere.
The shortest distance between
two points is always under construction.