Christmas, 2011 / No. 27

Twentieth century driving home drunk from your dead-end job to your dead-end house

hitting Seek under mauve chemical skies while the Fanta sun sinks

behind pre-sold pre-sod Major Mac subdivisions.

Twentieth century your lawns are tan, thirsting for rain, and there’s nothing on television.

Twentieth century all your melodies were written twenty-eight years ago, your songs are anemic,

thirsting for rain, they bring only pain with each tired refrain.

Twentieth century your wife left you long before you even met her—she was gone,

and you have taken it out on every woman since.

Will you make it in to work tomorrow with your bloodshot eyes and your Advil buzz?

Will anyone notice? Will they get on better without you?

“What’cha gonna do about it? What’cha gon-uh DO? ”

Now you are naked on the Internet, you have waited forty minutes just to see yourself—flesh out—but it is not your body and it’s not your face either.

Tomorrow you will wear yesterday’s socks. You’re all talk, twentieth century, foxing nobody.

You are dreaming you are “the pure products of America”

going crazy. Look at yourself. “Stretched out

in room ten-o-nine, with a smile on your face and a tear right in your eye.”

Y’are a terrified thirty-six-year-old tired beyond the twilight of youth and any cliché,

twentieth century, your heart is fluttering like the wings of a small bird,

your heart racing like the heart of a small bird, while you cling

to your nest; to a torn and frayed dream of nostalgia—

You Are Poetry, twentieth century!

Lead foot on accelerator

(that shit don’t deflate like the old stuff)

breathing oxygen through a ventilator suit—

looking down from the moon—waning twentieth century—our one lonesome moon,

did you really think fashion was just perspective?

That all you learned from technology has taught you nothing, albeit painstakingly;

has shut down the circulation of blood to the heart, actually?

What exactly do you see from up there, twentieth century?

Do you expect us to believe you will ever return;

that your soul might survive and your bones not cinder up on re-entry;

that you might walk down the streets of your hometown an exile

in the pale green light breathing pale green etherized air?

Have you had one original thought in your life, twentieth century? One?

You are a footnote.

Y’are a three-line item buried deep in the library’s sub-basement:

“Your face swollen like a purple cabbage: ‘Oh I had a bad fall.’

What kind of staircase could do that?

Tell us whose fist it was. Twentieth century, don’t lie to us.”

(With lines from the Rolling Stones songs “Ventilator Blues” and “Shine a Light,” the William Carlos Williams poem “To Elsie,” and the John Ash poem “Twentieth Century.”)