POETRY AND PROSE

America: Election 2008 

out in 
the real america, where real god 
loving americans ate chicken-fried 
steak with fat-back grits and jalapeno 
hush puppies, two travelers sat for yom 
kippur dinner at The Y’all Come Back Café 
in Rains County, Texas. 

my 
recently deceased, 21-year-old 
son sat by my side, as was his custom 
in those days, ordered the house-special fresh-fried 
catfish basket with slaw smothered cheese fries and sweet tea, then slid back 
behind the Rains County sheriff who sat contemplatively at The Table of Knowledge picking corn bread crumbs from the table of his belly, 45 strapped to his side, to check out the soup and salad bar. 

meanwhile, my parents in Florida had 
turned off the phone and begun their fast, my 
85-year old father, too terrified to die, too confused to 
meet the maker he’d despised since the day 60 years before his 
three-month old son, my brother, had been taken by SIDS as his mother, my 
mother, made a sandwich in the kitchen, his grief so complete he wouldn’t work again for an entire year, began his practiced prayers of absolution on The Day of Atonement. 

I remember well, being scared 
shitless on The Day of Atonement, desperately 
determined to think only pure thoughts, pure thoughts, as 
I walked the three blocks to the temple mom and dad sent 
me to but didn’t attend, except on The Day of Atonement, the 
day it was said that God would write your name in The Book of Life, or 
not, the day that determined whether you would live another year, or not, and I 
imagined that it all came down to the thoughts I’d had that day: pure thoughts, or not— 

meanwhile, the basket and sweet 
tea arrived with the sweet plump waitress 
wearing the I Did WHAT Last Night? tee-shirt, and my 
son, who always knew my mind, then glanced that sly sideways 
glance of his, then mouthed the grace we’d always said as family, my son 
my wife and me, ‘thank you for this food, thank you for this family, thank you 
for all the good things in our life,’ then doubly 
delighted, he dug right on in. 

II 
There once was this 
guy named Mickey, a thalidomide 
baby from the fifties, when drug-testing was less 
regulated and more 
republican, who was born with no arms who wore the same 
orange jumpsuit each and every morn who sat at the same spot 
at the diner drinking java who used his toes to hold his steaming 
cup a joe, he'd built this one-man lawn-care 

company, the town gave him lots of work but not charity, believe you 
me he diligently and doggedly did the work you’d see him here and there 
dragging bags of brush with his teeth, ferociously toe-wielding weed-wacker, 
you betcha, in some circles he became the living breathing embodiment of all joe 
six pack red white and blue american red neck blue collar white guys who'd wedded a black wife who’d fathered 12 kids who’d somehow figured a way to wipe his ass who'd succeeded in becoming just another armless guy in an orange jumpsuit at the diner sipping coffee at the counter with his toes. One day as he drove 

down the highway, he spotted a smoking car by the 
side of the road and damned if he didn't see an elderly 
lady trapped inside. No shit 

he then shattered the windshield with his bare feet then dragged the 
old lady out with his teeth as the car then exploded into 
flame. The story went everywhere 

instantly, he appeared on Rosie, she gave him a brand new pimped 
out ride equipped with all the latest cool handicapped shit, The Today 
Show then came calling; they too got a few usable 
segments out of it. Mickey then tried to 

market his story, it was a real good story, a real nearly 
normal American hero, that one, but it never quite got done so he 
kept mowing lawns and sipping coffee at the diner then one night got drilled by a drunk 
driver running the red light downtown. 

III 
Mom called the other day, said she 
had something vital to say about Obama, no shit she 
then told me my rich ruined uncle had sent some strange sick e- 
mail that conclusively proves who knows what. I then just now pick up the phone, some 
pollster asks if my dead son was home, I said I wished 

he was, my dad then calls with FOX breaking news: Obama had been 
raised immersed in Muslimism, a sleeper cell set to unleash generational 
jihad upon a left-lumbering, slumbering America. I then lashed back, you wanna 

talk about real americans, you wanna 
talk about real american values, you wanna talk about caribou barbie's bastard knocked-up daughter’s boyfriend doing bong hits in a double-wide in anchorage two 
days before they were then robo-engaged and rolled 
up on that fucking convention stage and how 
fucked up was that? He then 
hung up on me. 

I then remembered that dappled not-so-distant day my son and I had line-stood two 
hours to vote in the primary, recalled the laughter and hope and stupidity, then wrote mom and dad a hurried note, said something about how much I 
missed them, and would come again 
soon to see them. 

IV 
I once had this 
neighbor who’d once 
had this husband who’d once 
been both a doc and fighter-jock. I’d once seen 

pictures of both she and he, square- 
jawed strength and security for their three boys aged 
three through thirteen, then seen flagged-filled pics of both bush the 
elder and she as he then became the first casualty on the 
first night our country ‘tis of thee first 
blanket-bombed Baghdad, his 
plane the first blanked from that sky that night--of course for 
years and years she then again never found another guy so complete to 
compete with the 
memory of that 
one. 


I once took my once quite-young son downtown to 
old Baltimore Arena, downtown there in old Bawl-mer 
before the brothels and bars on The Block became boutique 
Disney brothels and bars, saw the Knicks play the Bullets before 
they became the Wizards; wizards in Washington? Anyway, this big 

big ol’ dude behind he and me, I mean really 
really flesh-rippling hope-he-don’t-sit-next-to-me on the plane big, kept 
yapping: Yo Pearl, give ‘em that ol’ hoobie doobie, give ‘em that hoobie doobie now. 

My son, who 
always knew my mind, who lived well and loved 
life 
then glanced 
that sly sideways 
glance, then said to me that 
dappled not so distant 
day he and I stood then voted in the 
primary: Yo Daddy, let's you 'n me go give ‘em 
some ‘o that ol’ hoobie doobie now. 

VI 
Election Day, 2008: late, very 
late that night, my father on earth calls from florida, says he’s very 
very cold, says mom needs the fans and airconditioner full 
blast because she’s got no internal thermostat since 
her hysterectomy, says he’s reading 

Louie L’Amour, that amoebas or space 
men spawned humanity, that he wished it weren’t so 
damn cold and he wasn’t so damn old; then says goodnight, and 
don’t let the bed bugs bite.