80’s Body Shop Elegy

Gratisography /​Pexels 80’s Body Shop Elegy
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We kept the radio on all day long.
The news came on at noon. Reagan,
Nicaragua, Iran.

Tommy brushed his fingertips
over the freshly primed fender
of another rust-​bucket Monte Carlo,

feeling for waves, bows, any
imperfections in the once rotted places
he’d filled and shaped with fiberglass resin.

Next door, the whitewashed Lighthouse
Salvation Church Of The Redeemer
sat boarded, a rusted air conditioner

hanging above the inlaid cross,
housing nests of robins in May and June.
Chicory nodded from a bed of weeds

in the planter between Washington Ave.
and the sidewalk. Racine.
Anywhere. Nowhere. Tommy,

I remember your white-​boy boogie
whenever Prince came careering
out of the boom-​box, coaxing,

let’s go crazy,
and the yellow paint-​thinner
barrel where we huffed on a soaked rag

behind the paint booth. You asked me once
to read you what the big warning label
with the skull and cross bones on it said.

Toxic,” is what it said.
Except for words on a page,
you could put anything together.


It was always cooler back there,
the windows flung wide, air hoses hissing,
the Sandinistas we hallucinated

with their Russian made AK’s, climbing
the tangled trees behind the shop, green
and blending in with the canopy of leaves.


Pittsburgh Quarterly is now accepting submissions for its online poetry feature. PQ Poem is seeking poetry from local, national and international poets that highlight a strong voice and good use of imagery, among other criteria. To have your work featured, send up to three previously unpublished poems in Word or PDF format as well as a brief bio to . Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but if work is accepted elsewhere, please alert us.


Jimmie Cumbie

Jimmie Cumbie lives a few blocks from Lake Michigan in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. His poems have appeared recently in The North American Review, Spillway, Midwestern Gothic, Meridian and Harpur Palate. You can find more of his work online at Muse/​A, Cider Press Review and Boxcar Review.

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