The 20th Century
by John J. Brugaletta

The Great War—a veteran rapist
went away, then returned for more—
hangs a dark solidity over the era,
so disheartening that when it passed for good
our worship of our home became exaggerated
with babbling cyclopes showing idealized housewives
vacuuming in party dresses and frilly aprons.

Individualism huddled itself in drive-ins,
backyard barbecues and bedrooms for everyone.
We saw in our mirrors the best the world had known,
choosing our leaders singlehandedly, uncompromising,
proud of our humble status—our domed lunchbox,
patched working clothes, calloused hands and minds,
fumbling our way toward dynasties that died young.

We knew somewhere deep that the days of slaves
were ending, so we began to take on machines
to do our menial chores—clothes washers,
gas heaters, electric lights, cotton gins; and then
air conditioned, CD equipped, sattelite oriented
tractors selling for only $200,000 apiece,
and mostly unrepairable. But best of all was
the car, with radio and heater, an enclosed living
room that took its occupants elsewhere at a
speed that shamed horses and cheetahs,
selecting only a small percentage of lives as pay.

When it ended, we thought the world was ending,
and we looked to the future like Irish villagers
looking forward to the next Viking raid.
Now we look back on it with nostalgic fondness,
like remembering Mussolini’s punctual trains.

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