Great Americans
by Michael Brett

Bill Gates sits at a PC. He drives himself to work.
He says Hi! He probably eats cereal.

Once great men looked like Great Men.
You could not mistake them if you sat next to them on the bus or the subway.

They wore cocked hats and had pieces missing: eyes, arms.
They raised laughs in front of firing squads and chefs.
They stood on burning decks always
With the same kind of jokes that make life
Seem like a hilarious tea party hosted by Death dressed as Whistler's mother.

Great American men came from great American families
With an Uncle Binky who founded Merrill Lynch.
His brother Ted punched Theodore Roosevelt by accident at Yale
While inventing football or the light bulb.

Then there was the drunken, nameless, cousin who captured Hitler
Then let him go after losing a bet with him over a French actress in a night club.

Great families had women who ruled them like queens,
Theodoras and Penelopes who, as children,
Performed ballet for the Tsar in St Petersburg.

These were Great Women who hid muskets under their beds,
Who swapped places with their husbands in prison,
Who swam seas wrapped in their national flags.

These were women who wrote marching songs,
Who stood bare breasted at barricades,
Singing and, posing for Delacroix in the cannon smoke,
With not a platinum Mastercard or a Jimmy Choo between them.


Copyright © 2011 - Michael Brett
Published: 6/9/11   ·  Author's Page   ·  Next Poem