What Rough Beast | Poem for October 9, 2017

William Prindle
What about the year I turned 18

What about that James Earl Ray
That murderer of Martin Luther King
And how about that LBJ stepping down
Just a few days before howdya like that

What about those plucky Vietnamese
Unleashing hell on a holiday Tet they say
And how about them proud Americans
Not admitting they were losing a war

What about that June what about that Bobby
Kennedy killed just before my graduation
And how about that light fading from his eyes
On that hard hotel kitchen floor

What about that speech that valedictory
I was supposed to give what about learning
How to live before learning how to make
A living what about that first failed raid

On the inarticulate what about that shabby
Equipment unable to find words for that moment
What about Dick Daley and the Chicago pigs
And Tricky Dick and the best musicians

Overdosing and the rest of us descending
Into that numbness not knowing what it was
What about that how about it what was it
Who was I then and who am I now

What about the best of us once again lacking
All conviction what about the worst even fuller
Of passionate intensity torches on our grounds
Killing us with their muscle cars on our streets

And how about that fat pumpkinhead cartoon
Making Nixon look like an honorable man
What about them skinheads spewing the hatred
Our fathers fought that we would be spared

How about it America what about that shadow
Problem what about that denial problem how
Bout that projection problem your blaming
Of the other how about it you righteous dudes

What about those Russian hackers learning
That sliming Hillary made better money
Whipping resentment making democracy smell bad
How about that Vlad how about it Don

How about that internet thing whipping up
Resentment like so much barbecue sauce mixed
With that gasoline tossed on those charring corpses
What about that my man how about that

How about that red meat for the resentful red meat
For men who will not eat that same old shadow
How about that half century of not learning a thing
How about we admit it America how about that


William Prindle’s poems have appeared in The Pennsylvania Review, Written River, The Echo World, The Live Poets Society, and elsewhere. He lives in Fluvanna County, Virginia, with his wife and three horses. Prindle is active in the local Live Poets Society and has won two Poetry Society of Virginia awards.

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