Living on Spent Waves
He raises his eyebrow slightly, and says,
“or a brainless opossum. Did you know
that one survives for hours after its brain
is blown out, “ I shake my head, no,
I didn’t know that, and could’ve gone
without knowing that for a very long time.
But I try to keep the conversation rolling,
slightly away from the opossums, saying
that I read in the newspaper that we’re
aware that we’re dead ’cause braindead
isn’t really braindead right away ‘cause
of electrical impulses. You can hear stuff.
And he’s not interested. He’s talking up
football, patriotism and taking a knee,
and god damned fake news, and suddenly
words start clicking in my head like fleas
in a tinderbox. Words like powder keg
and riots and Harlem and Rodney King
and 12th Street and Watts and Miami.
You’re too young to remember, I say,
The Long Hot Summer of 1967 or
Kent State or Saginaw. Nobody ever
learns from history, everybody thinks
they’re special. Well, when I take a knee
it’ll be no prank. It’s no small thing
to end an age, end a rage, I say to him.
Nowadays it’s all an affair of words.
And I’m exhausted from the metre
and offensiveness of modern language.
It’s all spent waves and doubtful dreams.
Written for Miz Quickly. [Note: Complete fiction. Being in the UK, I’m not totally up to speed on Taking a Knee, but after reading The Washington Post I filled in some blanks. I would’ve read the New York Times but they want me to subscribe to see a full article. Bollocks to that.] Image is from RSPB