Jan 21, 2008

American history

Written by Bob Hicok

Read by Ash Bowen

There’s no looking back. Looking back
has been removed as an option. “Going forward”
is on the control panel, not “sideways,”
not “staying put.” If we looked back,
the future would feel unwanted. It would be
as if knights in the time of knights,
whenever that was, took off their helmets
and used them as ashtrays. That’s how the future
would feel if we looked back, like armor
denied the chance for glory in battle.
If you’ve ever been denied the chance for glory
in battle, you wouldn’t do this to a helmet
or a codpiece or the future, wouldn’t look back
or discuss looking back or even have a back.
You’d get rid of your back, you’d be all front,
all face, kneecaps, the zone of genitalia.
I’m sorry to speak to you like this
but it’s serious business, whatever we’re doing.
We’re going forward into the not looking back.
That’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re getting
things done. As soon as the thing is done,
it hasn’t been done, it’s in the past, the past
is behind us and behind us isn’t there,
as I’ve just clarified. But don’t look back
if you missed the recent clarification. It’s also
not there, your Achilles heel is gone, no one
can wound you with an arrow. Bulldozers
the color of sunrise heap piles
of the fresh start on a tomorrow that seems
like such a long time ago. We used to clap
erasers after class, take the dust of language out
and set it free in clouds of coughing,
then wash the chalkboards of the last sign
of memory. Clean slate. How fresh life feels,
without the encumbrance of life.