Writing: The Parade


Inspired by so many parades…

We drove miles
to entertain America,
the real one
not the one on TV

fire trucks so loud
with nowhere to go
but two miles up the road
as children cheer

people holding clipboards
scramble to make it make sense
the most important person in town today
is the lady who usually does your hair

clowns, queens, kings
all take a ride in the best seat in the house
and wave that wave
and they all wave back

some shout familiar greetings
as their temporarily famous neighbors pass

a flag goes by
and an eighty-five year old man salutes
through a sixty-five year old tear
and I see him, even if no one else does

this is the real America
little boys banging air
as the drummers go by
this is where we live

this is my America
little girls wave excitedly
to the “bean queen”
this is where I live

big men in little cars
tractors so shiny
children picking up candy
from fake politicians and true civil servants

but today is not about them

it’s about you
and me
and the baby in the stoller
sleeping through Ronald McDonald

a heavily tattooed father wearing a John Deere cap
raises his son to his shoulders just so he can see
a ’69 Mustang with the top down
“that’s when muscle cars ruled” he says

uncle Sam walks by
he looks much shorter than I thought
but I wave anyway
and smile at the giddy imposter

then a jeep rolls by
carrying two WWII veterans
and I secretly wonder
what kind of hell they’ve lived through

what kind of sacrifice they’ve made
to allow my children to walk
through every red light in town
as America waves and cheers

a concrete truck that looks like it was just washed
(likely the only time this year)
rolls noisily down another job well done
humming a low tune as the barrel turns

a policeman walks with “shadow”
who can smell drugs a mile away
but right now is more interested
in a two year old’s tootsie roll

a group of ‘Nam vets
yell loudly as they march in time
and I wonder what Jane Fonda
is spending her time doing today

why are 20 dogs in this parade?
and what exactly is “tailwaggers” anyway?
but I can’t help but smile
as the St. Bernard drags the lady the whole way

and could someone explain
why a unicycle has to be made more difficult
by raising it 12 feet
from the earth…

a non-descript man with a shovel
walks behind the Clydesdales as people applaud
and I think “a bad day shovelling horse shit at a parade…
is still a pretty good day”

and finally ninety year old “Sam” rolls by
in a sweet new convertible
“Our Town’s Citizen of the Year”
an award likely given just in time

this parade is not perfect
no, not by a longshot
but for one morning
our greatest concern is not Iraq, Saddam or WMD

or any other divisive word or acronym

today we only need to know
how much longer until the marching band?
what temperature is the water at the beach?
and what’s for lunch?

in the door of a storefront
sits one old lady in a wheelchair holding an american flag
she is wrapped in a blanket on a 90 degree day
but she’s here, with America

hell, she IS America

just like you
just like me

Everyone loves a parade…