Mr. Machine Meets JFK

JFKMr. Machine

Something about middle age,
With two daughters grown and
Sent off into the world
That pulls me back to the garage apartment built by my dad in his off hours;
A skinny kid then, fueled by cigarettes, beer,
need and fear.
A tiny place-always bright in memory
Lit by second-hand lamps and high sliding windows
Where I could run endlessly down the hall between
Bedroom and living room and back again.
A distance I now cover in three strides when the
Current tenant needs something done.
In that living room, Mr. Machine:
Walking, talking, squawking, bell ringing robot
(Possibly the most annoying toy ever made)
Tried to drown out President Kennedy who spoke in shades of gray
From the tripod TV in the corner
About the Soviet military buildup in Cuba
About nuclear strike capability
About an attack on the US and
About massive retaliation.
Mom shushed me and pointed Mr. Machine out into the hall
Where I slithered after him on the waxed tile in my little fat-boy pajamas
Not noticing their sideward darting glances;
Or the rapid and deeper draws on their cigarettes.
I followed Mr. Machine into my bedroom as my old man leaned closer
To the TV, wondering if all the work that went into building our house
had been a waste of time.

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