The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Angela Howe Decker’s “Splendid Catastrophe”


From Angela Howe Decker’s chapbook, “Splendid Catastrophe”

At the Tire Store

The man behind the counter
pulls out a catalog of tire specs,
licks the carbon-black tips of his finger as he flips pages.
He leans close and I breathe in the cigarette he had at lunch.
The thick scent of rubber and oil clings to him,
hangs in the air.

He hefts a tire from the racks
and slides his hands along the ridges
carefully, like he’s showing a prize horse.
He pinches the tread, explains balance and traction,
why this one is good in heavy rain.

The road, he says, is an animal.
Even when we feel safe it can
push us into trees, over cliffs.
No one is careful enough.

Once in a car, on a wet night
a man very much like this one kissed me,
slid his hands rough with every day work
beneath my sweater.
By the time he slipped his tongue,
soft as felt,
sharp with tobacco,
into my mouth
I knew I loved cars,
the solid machinery of travel,
the dangerous thrill of the open road.

I drive home on 16-inch Bridgestones
and the highway’s black pelt is slick with rain.
I think of men I’ve known,
consider what carries us,
what keeps us from sliding sideways
as we head into the dark.
One hand on the wheel,
our foot heavy on the pedal.


This selection comes from Angela Howe Decker’s chapbook Splendid Catastrophe, available from Finishing Line Press. Purchase your copy here!

Angela Howe Decker lives in Ashland, Oregon with her husband, two sons, and way too many pets. Her poems have appeared in African VoicesHip MamaThe Wisconsin ReviewComstock ReviewJefferson Monthly, and others. She teaches introduction to poetry writing at Southern Oregon University and writes an art & literature column for the local newspaper. Her work appears in the recent anthology, Knotted Bond: Oregon Poets Speak of Their Sisters. Her chapbook, Splendid Catastrophe was published this year by Finishing Line Press.

Leslie LaChance‘s poems have appeared in Quiddity, JMWW, the Best of the Net Anthology, Apple Valley Review, The Greensboro Review, Juked, The Birmingham Poetry Review, Slow Trains, Free Lunch, Chronogram, and Appalachian Journal. She also edits Mixitini Matrix: A Journal of Creative Collaboration. Her chapbook, How She Got That Way, appears in the quartet volume Mend & Hone from Toadlily Press.

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