At 3 a.m.the phone rings;
Death is calling; he needs a ride
From some godsforsaken diner
Just off the Garden State Parkway
Near the Jersey Pine Barrens.
(Though he is wealthy, Death
Rides wobbly one-speed bikes
Or drives a temperamental clunker
Or he wakes folk up because once
You did him a favor so now he thinks
The two of you are friends.)
He has just realized that the ghost
Of Mexican flyer Emilio Carranza
Has been waiting with growing impatience
Since July 12th, 1928 when he crashed
In the Barrens after President Coolidge
Didn’t feed him lunch at the White House.
(Cal had said there was no food there
As Mrs. Cal had cleaned out the icebox.)
Carranza spends the whole ride back
Detailing his numerous operations.
He's uncertain how many platinum screws
Were needed to put him back together
After his 1927 crash in Sonora.
By the time you drop them off
At a Starbucks near Penn Station
It's almost eight. No sense going home
So you take your half-caf latte
And get to work a bit early.