POEM: American Fool

JC_American_Fool

American Fool

It was the summer that John Cougar’s “Hurts So Good”
owned the airwaves. I remember it was playing
in Todd’s room when I got there. Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Our family’s last stand in our home state before
the final dissolution. Before we spread across the country
like dandelion seeds scattered by a strong wind.

It was also the summer of the Kinks’ “Lola,” introduced
to me by a Doctor Demento parody called “Yoda.”
“Y-O-D-A Yo-Da.” All three of those songs are bound up
in my memory like the sight of the sword Todd laid
on his bed, a gift from the grandfather we didn’t share.
The one who’d been an officer in the Knights of Columbus.

It was the last summer of trips to see Plymouth Rock
or the replica of the Mayflower. (“April showers bring
May flowers. What do May flowers bring? Pilgrims!”)
After that, seeing Todd meant a trip to Wisconsin.
It wasn’t the same. Even later when I moved to Arizona
where he lived, things had changed. Too much time.

It was the summer I came home from my grandparents’ place
round as a beach ball from all the Ring Dings I’d eaten,
sitting in front of the little TV in their den watching Star Blazers.
My parents made me run a mile a night until I was less round.
One of many clues I didn’t notice until three decades later.
By then the bullet had hit and passed through, leaving a scar.

21 December 2013
Oak Street

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