Monday, April 09, 2012
Another Time, Maybe
Wasn’t there a time when it all seemed o.k.?
Mantel clocks faithfully wound, maternity wards
thriving, Montgomery Wards thriving,
a Ford in the garage? An occasional world war
or mob lynching, the atomic removal
of a couple of cities far away,
a case of Schlitz in the cellar?
Wasn’t there this background music,
a bearded man conducting a thousand strings
and Dinah Shore and a summer of cicadas
in a Hollywood Bowl of Cherries?
Wasn’t it just swell? And didn’t you get
that orange box of Wheaties with Eddie Matthews
when your dad got the job at the gas station
after striking for a couple of years at Kohler?
Didn’t you shine your little shoes and put on
your little suit and snap your bow-tie
on the white collar and look up
the skirt of the angel costume on the stepladder?
And how hard was it to swipe a pack of Luckies?
Wasn’t there a time when feeling-up the Schmidt
girl in her pointy little bra was pretty good?
And wasn’t it great to go to art school
and draw nude models and swipe packs
of Gauloises at the Knickerbocker? And
wasn’t it great when your brother
let you come along to a park and build
a fort with his buddies and then
that old guy drove up and was real nice
and wanted to see your . . .
touch your . . . Oh, that’s right,
you can’t remember that, can you?
And wasn’t it fun the time you and Billy
put sand in the fuel tank of that bulldozer
and busted the windows out of that cabin?
And wasn’t it cool when you didn’t get drafted
and got to mess around with chicks
who burnt their pointy little bras?
And wasn’t it nice when Ike, in his gray suit,
and Mamie, in her navy blue dress
with the little white dots looked up from golf
and told us everything would be o.k.?
Wasn’t that nice?
And weren’t her gloves just so white?
- Ralph Murre
note: The picture was found on-line and digitally altered. The poem is from my Crude Red Boat (Cross + Roads Press)