Get your words straight, Jack! … Let’s do push-ups together here, man. Let’s run. Let’s do whatever you want to do. Let’s take an IQ test.
In the TV show of life, you’d best hit pause,
rewind it back until it’s as it was,
when all the girls were hot, the stars were white,
the president was black. You slept at night,
assured there was a person with a plan,
a theme song, and a striking “yes we can”
on a bumper sticker on the Porsche.
The “we” you mean does not mean you, of course.
But what the hell, it’s springtime every day
when lawns are watered and you get your way
in politics and love and rock ‘n’ roll,
and what is left is what you can’t control
and try not to think about. An orange sky
burns in the distance as the airplanes fly
on improvised routes, and golfers still tee off,
ignoring the smoke, trying not to cough.
You soon enough retreat to where the clash
becomes a vaguely West Side Story flash
of someone’s switchblade last mid-century.
You stare him down again, an enemy
seen far away in memory’s telescope,
a dubious victory, nostalgic hope
that we can win again; that we’ll unite—
lifeguards and patrons—with all the wrongs set right
by folksy charm and a steel-eyed show of nerve,
an anecdote you’re holding in reserve
and hope you won’t fuck up, a reverie
that seems so vivid and malarkey-free.
Perhaps it’s true, perhaps it’s relevant,
another bit of airtime badly spent,
an answered question no one thought to ask,
another move unsuited to the task.