The Beautiful American

September 13, 2007 § Leave a comment

“They say it comes in threes,”
Muttered the Barstow waitress, out front with a cigarette.
“Yeah,” said gristly Mr. Finality, “Everything comes in threes.”
And I know they are talking about what I’ve been thinking about
This whole drive, one of thousands filing in and out of Las Vegas
The Friday night after the Big Cut.

For the first time, I test the metre of the words, September 11.

Threes, and I think of the fourth airplane:
The story, the fight.
I’d rather think about that,
Because I’ve been waiting four days now
For someone to pull me out of this wreck.

Took me four days to realize I’ve been waiting for a hero
Since the first time I saw that well-dressed woman
Running at full power through the dinge and flurry.
I could feel only embarrassed, then ashamed, then numb.
These are not plastic-shoed, brown-skinned, un-permed, unschooled.
We have finally got Ours.
That is what they’ll think—the World—when they see this,
And they see this now.

So we pounce on every half-heard word
Because that might be it, the answer,
The secret, the missing part of the story.

Inside the restaurant, a man tells mute, complacent friends
what the flight numbers actually mean.
In the corner booth, teenage girls in gangland lipstick
Absent-mindedly brush the cheeks of their babies.
An elderly couple whisper to each other.

I order greasy potatoes and apple juice
For my son, who will be three in four months,
And we color on the back of the paper menu.

September, 2001
Written before it all turned Political

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