Arcade Games

When I walk into work the air is cloying

The musty glow of past play-sweat clinging to the air,

The whipping of sugar has begun in the back

Building the wispy crystals into pastel clouds

My job involves windows and I

Collect fingerprint marks off the glass

Like a snuffed candle the magic

Goes out, the raucous mouse has struck again


The first song is a hymn and it echoes

Bringing back the subconscious indoctrination of

Simpler days, the message is clear now

If a bit threadbare from the friction of time

It is an attempt at hipness clinging to

 A seemingly inherent belief (children don't like school)

I remember past wonder (so many planets in the sky)

A relentless hunger (more books than I could ever read)

I wonder where and when I learned apathy

If it was in sweat-soaked booths

Between bites of pizza


The second song is a battle cry- passive aggresively insinuating

At a lack of culture, the rough-hewn edges of the present,

It is a temple to a god nobody worships anymore

Except of course those who cite its miracles

The gleaming past with its faded gilt edges

Framing a picture of a better age

A time of innocence and substance (so they say)

More compelling in its fictitiousness

Glaringly coincedental, I'm sure,

That this happens to be that past, that world,

Where the songwriters claim they themselves were children

From where they bring this nostalgia

Like pressed flowers gleaming with mold


I know well the effect these songs will have over time

The steady way they erode

The price they exact for their prizes

I've seen it in the sunken-eyed way my friends copy homework

The frantic scribbling to keep up the illusion and only the illusion

Everything else being classified as superfluous

I've seen it when jaded teachers ask the class for an opinion

And students imitate their postures

Flinging "this generation" around like a curse word

As though the taste burns their tongue

My world is a procession of children already world-weary

Nostalgic for a time they've never experienced

Half-imagined, the rest distorted

If these playing children who come next are also wrung-out

Are twisted in the same way we were...

I allow doubt to seep in through the cracks

And it sounds like music


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