Kevin Shyne, “Parked in the Sixties”

orange line

Parked in the Sixties

How could I have been so naive
too self-absorbed to pray for murdered nurses
hardly hearing shots of a clock tower sniper
believing the Saigon thugs we called allies?
But I was 15
books and papers spilling from my locker
legs locking up at a two-mile finish line
mouthing words of Beatles songs.

How could I have been so shallow
averting eyes from napalmed villages
not showing up at protest rallies
unappalled by race riots broadcast live?
But I was 16
parading behind a pep rally float
sharpening number 2 pencils for entrance exams
trembling, phone in hand, a girl’s voice in my ear.

How could I have been so vain
not sick with grief over Martin and Bobby slain
not sobered by black-gloved fists on Olympic gold
not fearing for classmates bound for war?
but I was 17
a yearbook under my arm
car keys in my pocket,
a tassel looped on the rearview mirror.

Before the soul is plowed,
before amazing friends blend into the crowd,
before the innocence goes,
God must be taking pictures to laugh at later.
Why else make the Sixties so over the top
as if cruising all night in a blue Dodge Dart
slowing to park
soft clicks of the engine cooling
bench seat adrift in a sea of cars
the windshield a mirror of stars?

 


Kevin Shyne is a professional writer whose work once appeared in national magazines, corporate annual reports, and employee newsletters. Turning to poetry in his retirement, he has had poems published in Poetry Breakfast, The Lyric, Poetry Porch, and Blue Heron Review. In addition, as a volunteer in a group that is organizing a creative writing festival for high school students from seven schools in rural Illinois, Kevin is starting to realize that being a poet is about more than writing poetry.


 

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