Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Birthday Wish

"Will you still need me, will you still feed me ...?"

According to this card in the year of my birth
the transistor was invented, making possible
a radio with no vaccuum tubes. Chuck Yeager flew
faster than sound in a rocket propelled airplane,
and the Dumont Television Network inauguerated
broadcast news from Washington, D.C.
If you had gone to the ball park all the players
except Jackie Robinson would have been white.

Before this year you could not clean your sink
with Ajax or mix a batch of orange juice
from a tiny frozen can because those things
did not yet exist. The Department of War became
the Department of Defense, anticipating
the Newspeak of George Orwell who had not yet
published 1984. Princess Elizabeth got married.

The Atomic Energy Commission was formed
in an attempt to keep the lid on Pandora's Box,
the Marshall Plan began to rebuild Europe
while Radio Free Europe broadcasted to the East
and President Truman asked Congress for funds
to fight what he called "the Cold War."

So it was all set in stone, the story
of my life, beginning with the boom
of babies they could never build
enough schools for, continuing through
the years of Conelrad and bomb tests,
clouds of strontium-90 settling over
Mid-West cow pastures and seeping
into the wholesomeness of our milk,
of air raid drills, hiding under our desks,
the Sunday afternoon sirens, the missle gap,
the arms race, the space race, the moon race,
The Korean War, the Berlin wall, Cuba,
and Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam --
the entire agony of Communist hysteria
that mutated into Peace and Love
through a purple haze of electric
guitar music, then collapsed into a stupor
of sated Capitalist moneygrubbing,
Internet boom and bust, as we squandered
what was supposed to be the "peace dividend"
awarded to us as the righteous victors
by mortgaging our homes and building
an army so intent on finding a new enemy
that it did at last exactly that.

Now here I am, supposedly old enough to
know better, studying the accumulation
of my retirement funds and estimating when
the final payment will be made on my house,
wondering, if that day ever comes, how much
longer I will have to live. All around me
the world spins in confusion, lurching
from one disaster to the next like a drunk
wondering when he'll finally hit his bottom --
from which point there is only UP to go,
from where Salvation can be found,
and where life, as with the coming
of grandchildren, may reveal, finally,
its rewards.