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Nobody Gets Off the Bus:
The Viet Nam Generation Big Book

Volume 5 Number 1-4
March 1994

Texts made available by the Sixties Project, are generally copyrighted by the Author or by Viet Nam Generation, Inc., all rights reserved. These texts may be used, printed, and archived in accordance with the Fair Use provisions of U.S. Copyright law. These texts may not be archived, printed, or redistributed in any form for a fee, without the consent of the copyright holder. This notice must accompany any redistribution of the text. A few of the texts we publish are in the public domain. For information on a specific text, contact Kalí Tal. The Sixties Project, sponsored by Viet Nam Generation Inc. and the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, is dedicated to using electronic resources to provide routes of collaboration and make available primary and secondary sources for researchers, students, teachers, writers and librarians interested in the 1960s.

Poetry by Joe Amato

impressions of a man dreaming
in New York City in 1946

Inexorable tide of blonde and brunette
bombshells washing up against the beaches
of Normandy...

the fresh smell of washing
hanging on lines
the sounds of Dorsey in the background
and a lost button with the woyds "MOYDER DEM YANKS"
blowing down an alley
on a soundstage
in a backlot
in Hollywood
where a starlet once fucked Errol Flynn
claiming later to have seduced him
with a twig of fresh basil
and the promise of immortality
blossoming before our eyes
and ears
the cause, the great cause
causing the War, the World War
strutting forth
up, up...

and the odor of garlic and the streets
mixing with the rugged appeal of shoeshine boxes
and cheap dailies
and shouts of grimy kids
looking like Huntz Hall and Leo Gorcey
playing stickball
swearing like troupers
and the troopers themselves smiling
flashing their swastika-tattooed asses
at giggling French girls
and cursing in German
the houses in Germany
are cleaner
like the people
the people
the Japanese of Pearl Harbor
patriotic and uncompromising
patriotism slicing and raping its way through Nanking
and concentration camps
in Poland and California
and Il Duce hanging by his balls
recalling Cooper's farewell to Bergman
in translation, naturally
with food rations and sacrifice
deeply focused
and its meaning
all meaning
meaning only
one thing...

Yes, this is the dream of a man
a man dreaming
our impressions
concrete and instinctive
riddled with information...

and the sheer glamor of a lit cigarette
smoke drifting up and out
into this dream
of a man, of an audience
doesn't give a shit about Stalin
Churchill or de Gaulle

believe Hitler is Satan
Mussolini and Hirohito sinister and incomprehensible
supporting actors
Bogey and Bergman, again, the way things are

believe in a world peopled
by baseball-capped men
women in silk stockings, starry-eyed
children with no cavities
all mostly white
all mostly middle class
and all-American, anticipating
the coming of a new and improved, enriched
and unilateral commitment

a people
nurtured on the idea that

*a good cast is worth repeating*...

So a final and impenetrable gaze
eye panning, vertically
at those mushrooming possibilities
of American know-how, German
and Japanese
engineering, migrating
labor, cheap capital cheap
enterprise cheap oil all
by our sponsor

with Edward R. Murrow's voice
narrating our feelings
as they proceed
from the projection booth behind
with the sound of popcorn crunching
away at the future

Joe Amato teaches English at the Illinois Institute of Technology. This poem is from his collection, Symptoms of a Finer Age, published by Viet Nam Generation, Inc.

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