Sunday, June 22, 2008

1968, Part Four

I’d been in and out,
For me the draft was a non-issue,
But there were years left of dying,
So many, every week,
On TV, dreadful images,
Sober assessments in newspapers,
Pictures, how many hundreds?
In the Life Magazine, life of America
In pictures, death, someone you knew?
The odds were getting better.

Most of my friends were like me,
No military bearing, nothing to prove,
Hostile to authority, flippant underachievers,
Not hippies, worse, bad attitudes, bad habits.
Many of my friends had the courage
To show up and tell them, I’m gay!
Let me at those boys! I’ll keep everybody happy!
Some really were gay, some had needle marks,
You know, excuse me, I’m a little wasted,
“Man, you got a place I can lay down?
I been up for forty-six hours!”
They went home; some went in, I joined the Navy,
Three hots and a spot, no gunfights, no camping out.
The service wasn’t stupid, those of us crazies who got through
Were mostly, carefully separated from the explosives,
Made cooks, sent to Germany,
I drove trucks in Las Vegas,
Some got into the shit.

In June, another lone-gunman-de-jur,
Went to work in Los Angeles,
Another Kennedy took head shots,
Not the Hollywood kind,
Robert joined the pantheon, the dead,
It was almost beyond counting,
It really was well beyond understanding,

Beyond believing, glossy, unreal,
The wonderful music and cars, was it all a dream?
The world was young, the girls were pretty,
The dope was good, a Youth Culture,
If you could avoid reality, stay in the dream,
Or if it didn’t affect you personally,
Or if you just didn’t care and got on with your life,
“Other priorities,” they call it now,
Cold hearted self-interest was coming into fashion.

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