Volume 30, Number 2

We Promised

We boomed and we banged
We lay down in the streets and held high our signs
and declared the world saved by our purity of purpose
by our childhood, our hair.
We rocked and we trolled
traipsed naked over the fields
with melodies rising behind us
and we watched our brothers die
from disease and in
crusades that our deciders
triggered and discounted.
Then we discarded our used needles and bibles,
we popped a pill
paid the piper and the banker and the doctor.
We told our children to shake hands after they lost
to bring canned goods to school
said it didn’t matter what tribe
walked through the door for dinner
and we meant it
for a time
and then went back to the laundry
and our golf swings,
we mounted our stationary bicycles
and gave away our daughters and buried our sons
in foreign darkness and dust storms,
again we said prayers
to heal that poor kid on TV in the bombed out house
we dusted the furniture
we stopped
carrying each other off the field
and we held up the foundations that held up the world.
We grew old in our new clothes
we bypassed our hearts’ beatings and
stared at the grocery bags in our clenched hands
gave up, gave in
we said no
we said we are better than that
and we won’t sanction that.
We said we voted and didn’t, or did
for all we once despised
and finally
we had to admit
we lied.

—Jack Mackey