Toyota Child, by Tony Ricciardelli

Tony Ricciardelli

I am idling in traffic, roasting on melted asphalt,
going nowhere like a corpse in a parade.
I am directly behind them,
two characters in a car that should be scrap metal,
And then I see

the bumper sticker that reads
“White is Might.”
The words are flanked on either side
by a swastika and a lightning bolt.
There’s more.

Four decals are positioned
in each corner of the rear window:
Dachau, Buchenwald, Bergen-Belson, Ravensbruck.
In the middle of the same window

is a large swastika.
Below it are the words
“Six Million and Counting.”

The two shaved men in the front seat
are drinking Budweiser.
They are wearing camo t-shirts, and I suspect
the rest of the required uniform
consisting of black, steel-toe boots and fatigues.

They cuss like longshoremen at the trough,
shake their fists, pound on the dashboard,
scream along with the death-chant hate-heavy-metal
that shatters the air, ignites the ears.

Like a dog smells cancer,
I can smell the rot in their putrefied souls.

The stench reaches far into the neighborhoods,
sickens and repels like vomit on the stairs.

The sum of their hate is too much
for any culture or country,
though never enough for the righteously ignorant.
They cough and choke and spat hate
in every direction,
like rampant tuberculosis,
from a Medieval Toyota Hatchback that twitches and jerks,
and mimics and mocks those
who died in the ovens and chambers.

Beyond the swastika in the rear window,
I notice movement.

It’s a little girl,

maybe three or four years old.
She is blonde, slender, fair-skinned:
Der Fuehrer’s forgotten progeny.

She is sitting
next to a styrofoam cooler, eating popcorn,
seemingly detached from the
propaganda rage and filth screaming from
Radio Auschwitz.

She sways slowly, rhythmically, from side to side,
as if she’s found a way to separate herself
from the self-ordained Gestapo, in the front seat.

And for a moment,

her tranquility renders me hopeful.
And I pray that, perhaps,
in her mind, she’s escaped to a faraway place,
to the familiar Mother Goose,
or she’s skipping down Sesame Street,
or maybe she’s climbing the rainbow
she drew in pre-school.

And reading her expressionless face,
I imagine
the worst scenario
of that child’s miserable life,

and I must convince her
that there is good in the world.
I need for her to know
that somebody cares.

So, I gaze upon that child with fatherly concern,
and she looks back at me, hollow, distant.

My heart sinks because I suspect
that she doesn’t understand love or compassion.

And I offer a smile and a wave to that
unfortunate child,
and she locks her sad, dead eyes on mine,
and gives me the finger.

2 thoughts on “Toyota Child, by Tony Ricciardelli

  1. Heartbreaking, earth shattering, and all of it true. The most poignant thing is that you could be describing a scene almost any of us have witnessed at any given stoplight at some point in our sweltering summers. Beautifully done; I think the true sign of an excellent poet is when they can paint an exceedingly awful scene into a thoughtful picture. You hit this one out of the ballpark.

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