Steel and Plastic


For Peter Spano – justice warrior

Must have been a hundred degrees in Red Hook that day
Driving my truck on the Gowanus Expressway
Four o clock left the job site at three
Goin home to watch a little TV
We were bumper to bumper, going five to ten
blue collar guys and grey business men
crossover housewives and mid-size sales guys
just tryin to get home to get up at sunrise

And then a woman behind me – in an old SUV
Slammed it hard on the brakes, I could just barely see
in my rear view mirror her plastic front grille
met the steel of my bumper – I remember it still.
We got out of the cars, and I started to say
Its only steel and plastic, we’re both OK
But when she looked at me, she started to cry
Put her hands to her face, and I couldn’t see why.

Its only steel and plastic, don’t you see
Nobody’s hurt that’s what matters to me
It’s really nothing, just get one that’s new
You’ll get it fixed up in a week or two

“No tengo pasaporte” she said to me
She looked to her car, and then I could see
Her front seats were filled with housecleaning supplies
And in her back seat, a baby was crying

“No tengo pasaporte” – she cried it again
I realized she feared immigration
She feared for her baby, for her job, for her life
She stared at me now, tears in her eyes

I stood there, and held her gaze
Looked into her eyes and looked at her face
“No tengo pasaporte” she whispered again
It’s OK I said, “I’m not one of them”.

When she heard OK – she started to smile
She glanced at her baby and, still crying, she
held her arms wide, as if to hug me
and brought her hands to my face, almost to touch me

I got back in the cab of my truck
Turned the key, started her up
I thought to myself, as I’m driving away
Steel and plastic was all I could say

“No tengo pasaporte” changes everything
“No tengo pasaporte” that one little thing
“No tengo pasaporte” her baby’s not safe
“No tengo pasaporte” her crying face

I only drove a couple of feet
before I started crying, and I couldn’t see
I had to pull over, with my face on the wheel
turn off the ignition, all I could hear was

No tengo pasaporte,
No tengo pasaporte,
No tengo pasaporte,
No tengo pasaporte…..

And I – I – I – thanked God….
That I – I – I – I’m not one of them.