“The Flippant Zeitgeist” by James Doyle

James Doyle


wants Pancho Villa, Dead or Alive,
Shirley Temple mooning, Lincoln still

watching the play in his stove-pipe
hat. The audience behind him can’t see

anything on the stage but an occasional
flash of thigh. Then he keels over

and the big picture is clear again.
O, Twenty-First Century, sit back down,

let’s talk about your childhood, parents,
your fear of wars, Darwin on the couch,

the invention of steam shovels, Freud’s dirty
mind, and the Golden Railroad Age. We know

how hard it is to grow up when you’ve been
that abused. No wonder you feel the Weltschmerz

has let you down, no wonder you can’t unhook
your knickers. You wander around, looking

for something computers can’t do. O, bring
back Gene Kelly, tap-dancing and the simple

life! So what if you can’t carry a tune
or a wheelbarrow? You’ve got to stop

watching yourself on TV. Brush the ants
off your pants and step lively now.

The Twenty-Second Century is roaring round
the bend. And you’re stuck on the tracks.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006


James Doyle: “I am retired and 69 years old. I write to please and amuse my lover, Sharon Doyle, and I write because I like it, much as Sancho Panza says in The Man of La Mancha, when asked why he stays with Don Quixote, ‘I like him.’”

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