The Epitome of Cool

I peered through granny glasses
at the standard issue
crewcut frat boys
strolling through the commons
with one bottle blonde
appended to each arm.

I was Sargeant Pepper in my
Russian army greatcoat
which nearly swept the ground.
I was Dylan in a long red scarf,
singing in a voice laced with gravel
on MacDougal Street.

I was the epitome of cool.

Go ahead and accuse us
of stealing the last good causes,
of having the lines of battle
so clearly defined
you knew where someone stood
by the length of his hair.

We were the epitome of cool

Stoned out of our minds
or recently returned
from bad acid trips,
we laughed hysterically
at jokes we couldn’t explain,
feasting on frozen pies
and dinners of blue meatballs
and red spaghetti
that Seuss would have loved.

I remember the sad-eyed ladies,
their funky frizzy hair
sprouting in all directions
like exuberant undergrowth,
the dark promise of their nipples
clearly visible through
their sheer, flowered tops.
I wished I were some new cause
they would passionately embrace.

Tell us about the sixties, you ask,
as if we were discussing ancient Rome.
I answer with an aging hipster’s sigh,
to truly understand
you’d have to be
at least as cool as me.

(originally published in Everyday Poems)

 

james-dean

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