Troy Schoultz: “Gas Money”

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Forlorn sign for a long-closed gas station in Green River, Wyoming.

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Gas Money

Young, broke, classes skipped,
A bottle of Crown Royal stolen from your father’s rec room bar.
The only thing that made sense to us
When we were lost,
Was a full tank of gas.
Cars were serious currency,
An escape from living rooms drenched in T.V.’s glow,
And high schools that chewed us up.

Those years seemed composed of only morning and night
Swinging by the Amoco station for a breakfast
Of Doritos and Mountain Dew. Sunlight draining
Into the streetlights. AC/DC in the cassette deck,
We tore a rut in the asphalt of Main Street,
Waiting desperately for something to stain our colorless lives.
Bald tires, loose tie rods, burnt oil exhaust,
A blind headlight, all that mattered
Was fuel and motion. We attempted to outrun
Milltown pensions and expectations waiting for us
Beyond the polluted river,
And inflated lies of a diploma slapped in our grimy hands.

These days I’m in awe of being alive.
My car’s over ten years-old, but bought and paid for in cash.
The oil is changed like clockwork.
There’s money in the bank.
Out at the old lighthouse at sunset,
Headlights gather, stolen twelve packs emptied and discarded.
The ghosts of who we once were
Trying to make a quarter tank last another weekend.

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About the Author, Troy Schoultz: I’m a lifelong Wisconsin resident.  I’m currently a sometimes lecturer at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. My poems, stories, and reviews have appeared in Seattle Review, Rattle, Slipstream, Chiron Review, Word Riot, Fish Drum, The Great American Poetry Show, Steel Toe Review, Midwestern Gothic and many others in the U.S. and U.K. since 1997.  I’m the author of two chapbooks and one full-length collection: A Field of Bonfires Sings (Wolf Angel Press, 1999), Good Friday (Tamafyr Mountain Poetry 2005), Biographies of Runaway Dogs (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2017) and No More Quiet Entrances (Luchador Press, 2020).

I was nominated in 2012 for a Pushcart Prize by Slipstream literary magazine for my poem “The Biographies of Dogs Who Dared to Run Away.” My interests and influences include rock and roll, vinyl LPs, 8 track tapes, found objects, the paranormal, abandoned places, folklore, old cemeteries and the number five.

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More by Troy Schoultz:

The Art of Manliness

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Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith “Forlorn sign for a long-closed gas station in Green River, Wyoming.” (2018) The Library of Congress

Troy Schoultz: “The Art of Manliness”

 

 

 

The Art of Manliness

I never plunged a sledgehammer into drywall, never
Tore apart a motor with scarred, blackened hands.
I never slit a slain buck from throat to balls, the steaming guts
Spilling onto November snowfall, antlers mounted on a cabin wall.
What I learned about manhood at an early age was rage,
Voices that startled like early morning thunder from the garage,
The basement work area. Dad and grandpa unleashing
Their inherited frustration. The wrong socket, a dropped screwdriver,
The flashlight’s beam aimed at the wrong side of the engine compartment.
You cry too easy, be a man, toughen up, be more like your cousin…
Rage poisoned us when you taught me. Maybe
That’s why I pounded down my first beer at eleven, refused
To vomit up the swallowed chewing tobacco, tried working
The night shift in suicide factories. I needed to understand what “tough” was.

Alcohol stopped working for me, so I took a walk away.
Two last rites in three years. Dad, grandfather,
Ancestral ghosts one and all,
Have you ever come this close to death before fifty?
Am I tough enough for you now? Am I worthy of throwing tools
In fits of anger in a way that only makes sense to you?
God forgive me
And bless the sons I never had.

 

 

About the Author: Troy Schoultz’s poems, stories, and reviews have appeared in Seattle Review, Rattle, Slipstream, Chiron Review, Word Riot, Fish Drum, The Great American Poetry Show, Steel Toe Review, Midwestern Gothic and many others since 1997.  He’s the author of two chapbooks and two full length collections: A Field of Bonfires Sings (Wolf Angel Press, 1999) and Good Friday (Tamafyr Mountain Poetry 2005), Biographies of Runaway Dogs (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press 2016), and No More Quiet Entrances (Luchador Press 2020).

 

Image Credit: John Vachon “Abandoned casket factory, Dubuque, Iowa” (1940) The Library of Congress