Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Who Sold the Rabbit in the Hat to Uncle Sam?

Place your hand over you heart.  Remember the stern-faced Uncle Sam pointing right at you?   “Uncle Sam Wants You.” He wanted you to join the armed forces.  He told you that America needed you. He had a thousand parades to march in and a red white and blue suit to flap in the ever-search for clients who needed guns, and an army to shoot them a country to use them in.  Needless to say, he hasn’t t run out of clients

Ole Sam began pointing in more fruitful times, when the world spun wars that cooked kids for din din, experimented with their organs and fried 600,000 with a single bomb.  But folks don’t just sign up for every invasion, rocket lobbing contest or semi-war anymore.  As Jimmy Carter said, 95.5 % of the American population isn’t sacrificing.  Yes, Sam certainly is pointing, but the flag suit loses face these days, especially when we see it draped over coffins.  It makes one wonder what Sam really had in mind. 

To be a fair, a few patriotic survivors stand along Main Street in front of the empty storefronts, the blank theater marquees, the silent mills, the Mom and Pops stores with the outdated pinball machines tucked out back.  The adults give Sam a little credence and the children seem fidgety The bands stride by, maybe three bands this year from the usual high schools, the baton twirlers, fresh and ready,  toss clips of innocence and ecstasy at the sky; let’s  say Troy, New York, a clutch of rototillers spin down Sixth Avenue.  Why’s there’s old Elmer.  Still at it.  Shaved the mustache.  You’d think he’d retire.  Worked there how many years?.  Got hooked up with that woman who works for the government over in Albany.  Helluva guy.  Down the block he walks, with the rest of the tough guys and gals of the time, the time now running out toward the Hudson River a block away.  

Why here comes Uncle Sam, because Troy is Uncle Sam’s home, so this must be the real Uncle Sam lumbering by, waving to the thin crowd, bringing perhaps a momentary silence between distant drum beats, which as the poet Bob Kaufman said, is the must because, to paraphrase, without the silence there is no drum, there is no beat.

Uncle Sam marches on amidst this fantastic orgy beyond the parade, where these days, fingers point to selves.  “I am me” cries everywhere.  Uncle Sam’s finger seems stiff, an arthritis, or a thrombosis with odds that the heart of America may stop, or at least beat irregularly through the body we so dearly love.


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