Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The lineage of innocence

Shoot Elvis
For Bill Smolenske

Suddenly, one day, everything changes. A guy
decides to take a drive down a gauntlet of black
cats and broken mirrors, under ladders in the open
air of his inconvertible logic. They did shit like that
back in 1963, when the lineage of innocence was still
a long unbroken chain of honor stretching far back
into the rewrites of history and conscience was a luxury
no one could readily afford to include in textbooks and
curriculums. Back when Americanism was yet an untarnished
commodity available in shiny boxes of Crackerblack Jack,
ribbed bottles of Nesbitt’s orange, cellophane bags bulging
with the southern heat of Mammy’s Mississippi Moonpies,
all happily within reach at any corner convenience store,
had they been around in those duke of early days.

But there’ll be no cake today, not on this, your thirteenth
birthday, because there are yet four days of wailing ahead,
wailing and mourning for the passing of the last illusory
vestiges of a nation’s innocence, yours and ours, all of it
taken or given up in the crossfire, an acceptable expenditure
of what remains freedom’s finest resource: raw unrifled
gullibility. And it hurt. It still hurts all these goddam years later.

Just sing the birthday song and mean it, somebody. Let’s pretend
the world is still black and white, that soda fountains still say so,
but no one gets hurt over it no more. Let’s not go to the moon,
but leave it beautifully at dream’s reach, bobbing and buoyant
in a black sea of space, unfettered by flags and the color of debris,
safe from the greasy hands of enterprising men. Let’s allow it to remain a simple and unblemished symbol of unattainable purity reflecting only our gazing back into ourselves, a wondrous ivory
lamp by which to do so.

Make me President that day in November, and I promise to stay
the hell out of Texas. I’ll sleep with Jackie every night, and I won’t
blink in October. I vow to display a desk plaque that reads:
The Boogeyman Is A Commie. And if I do surrender to Marilyn,
no one’ll damn well know about it. For what, if nothing, does a man
possess if not his dear and honorable lies? If America cannot exist
in the realm of a boy, it cannot exist at all. Shoot Elvis instead, hips down, but let me open my gifts in peace. For nations grow old and die out everyday, but a boy becomes a teenager only once.

Joseph Gallo
November 22, 2002

1 Comments:

Blogger Sophie T. Mishap parried...

I read this with a mixture of emotions. Nice writing, Joseph.

December 01, 2005 7:04 AM  

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