I find myself nostalgic for the revolution,
For those heady days,
When we sacrificed ourselves by singing nasal songs of fraternity and liberty,
With the same intensity we sang of a Mojo hand,
And with the same level of understanding;
When we sat on the steps of the university’s science hall,
Preventing janitors from washing our graffiti off the men’s room walls.
We were high on the idea of distributing other people’s wealth.
We passed around the water pipe
With the hash that we couldn’t keep lit,
I, with my three chords on a cheap guitar,
And you on your tambourine.
Each night believing that the right words in the right order
Could wipe out war and poverty.
Now I know that it wasn’t our fault that the revolution succeeded.
Our singing was insipid and flat.
Smoking dope never saved the world.
But still we won.
As proof, see how well-fed we are.
How fat, how lazy.
We’re so tired we couldn’t wave a flag,
Even if we could find a reason to.
Yes, we’re all brothers now, free to twaddle off to Wal-Mart,
Where the aisles are extra wide for our fat asses.
We watch movies that go from scenes of violence to awkward sex,
As if we handle our weapons with more assurance
Than our genitals.
Yes, the Revolution was a grand success.
We protested for the education of children
Who now choose not to read.
We petitioned for a living wage,
So that our grandchildren could buy a tivo for each room of their mobile homes.
We planted gardens of flowers to place in the barrels of rifles,
But the manufacturers of those rifles now subsidize our retirements.
So, instead, we tend those beds to attract butterflies,
Reassuring ourselves that we changed the world,
As the tunes from our youth,
Downloaded now on our i-pods,
Promised we would so long ago.
MOONRISE OVER HERNANDEZ
Once the lie of love is confessed
To be as imaginary as the weight of the soul,
Only art is left.
This beautiful January moonrise
Extends me to Ansel Adams
And his print of New Mexico.
For this instant,
I stand within him,
Seeing what he saw of that night.
The little repeating crosses, the only signs of men,
The angles of houses mimicking the distant mountains,
And beyond them, the twilit clouds,
All in tide to the moon.
Like him, I disregard the other millions of moments
Of failed light and intrusive folk,
That weren’t worth the keeping.
With a poor ear and indifference to counting syllables,
Because perfect scansion is like the repeating barbs in barbed wire,
And rhyme the posts they’re nailed to,
I cobble my poems together with patterns,
Like tiny crosses, adobe churches, and wells of shadows.
My poems are meant to be read silently,
So that even a lisp or a stutter won’t matter.
I confess they are little more than prose passing itself off as poetry.
A pose, if you will.
But they are the best I can do with this ordinary night in 1941,
As seen from my darkened upstairs window on the right.