Sunday, December 01, 2013

November 1963

Once, when you were
So near the Sun
As with eagle's wings,
Another Icarus so you seemed,
On a late November day
When we found ourselves
In free fall
Along a nasty road
Best not taken
And the hapless journey
Has continued ever since.

I was in Fifth Grade
When the world went hush
Between each breaking bulletin.
Such a silence, such a stillness
Except for a lone girl
In the back of the classroom
Softly weeping into a grammar book
She hadn't opened since last June.

Tarnished armor and tattered tales
Cobbled into a mythic flame.
A legacy of images liberally mixed
With facts as well as fiction
In a Hollywood blender,
Half tawdry in its grandeur.

It was the first revolution
Broadcast live in Black 'n White
With wyrd sister Cronkite
Spinning a convoluted tale
Of mindless mad obsession
That still plays like the climax
Of Oz where the man behind
The curtain stands naked
But unseen.

Devote we were
In those golden days,
At prayer every week
In the school house basement
With our heads between our knees
In quiet meditation to
The holy missiles that
Moved like shadows
In our dreams.

Those were the wonder years
Of the American century
As it glimmered and flared
Like a bursting star.
And even you were like a nova,
Intense and brilliant
For one brief moment
Then quickly dimming
Like sullen embers
Turning cold against the night.

Once, after a flood,
I found an old Civil Defense
Barrel water logged and open
And spilling out its treasures
For life in Armageddon.
A bottle of stale water and
A pack of moldy crackers
And illustrated instructions
For turning the barrel into
A post-atomic toilet.

It was an age both different
And the same.
In a single day was
Childhood's end
As cynics came to play.
It really wasn't the end of
Innocence for that had
Vanished long ago.
It was the end of something
The end of some conviction
Yet divined.