Saturday, December 7, 2013

TAKE MIKE ~









TAKE MIKE


1.

i mean he doesn't live in this town
he lives in levittown which is nowhere
as far as anybody is concerned these days
he lives in a house built after the war
in a time when everybody got married and lived
as happy as the guy in the next peapod
meaning they lived in a house like everybody else's
and didn't mind it and they all watched the same
show on the same channel on the same motel tv
and the test signal came on at the same time of night
in every household in america

but take mike for goodness sakes i mean he makes
a little money and he does something with it
that was just a little monopoly house after all
but right away he's pushing it out here and
he's adding a little skylight there
and before you know it he's got a kitchen nook
where everyone else on the street has got a wall

and he refuses to catch the 6:28
and be one of the guys
on a train full of guys
rumbling car by identical car to the city,
he won't even take an office job for chrissakes
no, he's got to be a roofer or something, and buy
a truck of his own and paint his own name on the side

and nobody but nobody is going to tell him what to do

all right maybe sometimes it means he loses a contract
in the middle of a job because he refuses to compromise
with some lady in one or another of those over-priced
houses on the north shore —but i mean take mike
he's his own man with his own set of tools and his own set
of manly possessions take mike he owns one of those dogs
that sits in the passenger seat of his truck and hangs
his head out the window for chrissakes you can take
that dog to the beach and it will actually jump

in the water if you throw a stick, i don't care
whether it's summer or the middle of january
by god they actually go out and they go for it
i've seen the pictures.


2.

it's not that i'm jealous i want to get that straight

i've lived long enough to realize that individualism
is no longer an issue i've outgrown that particular fantasy
i mean it's impossible to be an individual in a nation
of 250 million people who are all being fed
the same line of crap every day
every everlasting working day every day
about freedom and individuality

the same line of crap, advertised absolutely
everywhere and everybody is offered
the same line of products and services
which they would have to buy to be individual, wear
to be individual, the same clever line of commentary
which they would have to think to be individual,
and where the only semblance of individuality

is to figure out how to keep up with the new
fashion alternatives in individuality
without going broke or losing focus on
your work, is to figure out how to strap on
the latest feedbag and remain content
when you're not in your office or in a bed
which no longer yields up its dreams,

where choosing from among
the new lines of crap they've come up with
becomes the measure of a man, not real
life choices, no! i accept all that
after all these years.

but take mike i mean he's a man with a real leather tool belt
and a big clanging box for his tools, and when he comes
home at night, he's spackled from ear to ear
with tar and hard work, and he smiles and takes
to his easy chair, and everything about him
tells me this is a man who actually comes home
and finds real relief from a day's work,
real rest, not just another dark spot
to park his ass while he waits to die.

and there. i've said it. it's not that i'm afraid of dying
but take mike death wouldn't be so bad for a man like that
he's experienced life and life has given him its rewards
for living it, take mike he hasn't cheated himself of living
life hasn't meant missed opportunities for a man
like mike the way it has for me — because I don't know
but sometimes i feel as if i have cheated myself
and missed my chances
i don't want to die until i have really lived, even if
it's too late for me to do so
but not mike, why should he be afraid to die?


3.

that's why i say
if death has to come
and knock on someone's door
let it be mike. let mike
be the one lying
on the living room floor
clutching his chest
with his wife ironing
happily in the kitchen
and the kids out
god knows where
pummeling baseballs
and doing their hair

with the bills piling
quietly higher
with the snow still falling
on the perfectly plowed
driveway

it is the strong ones that should die,
the ones who have worked hard and slept well,
the ones who have wrestled with life, and won and lost
while the rest of us have just waited, hoping that
somehow someday someone would hand us the magic key.

death, when you come
take mike



 ____________

GEORGE WALLACE 
Greatest Hits 1988-2002
Pudding House Publications
www.puddinghouse.com 

           photo : nytimes





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