Sitting with old retired men, men who have been very nice to me
Men who donate to charity, men who spend time in soup kitchens
But time has passed for them, and they have rewritten history
In their minds, revised the progress of our culture to suit their needs
They have lost journalistic integrity of their own minds

One of the old men said, “I can’t believe how much crime there is now,
Things were different when I was a kid.”
He was a kid in the 50s and 60s, and lived through the 70s and 80s
An era of mafia violence, of people shooting each other in the streets,
Of cars being blown up, terrible treatment of African-Americans and women,
The Vietnam War, a million civilian deaths, 84,000 children were killed –
84,000 children were killed when you were young sir?
Riots: Watts (1965), Detroit (1967) Newark (1967) and Chicago (1968)
Then the serial killers of the 1980s, Richard Ramirez and Jeffrey Dahmer –

The other old men all agreed with the speaker, sitting there I was astounded
The world was never free from violence, America was never a cute place to live
The world isn’t cute

I started to wonder if I had journalistic integrity of my mind
If I was lying about what happened, if I had conflated and edited my memories
At this time, my coworker showed me a band, a country band
Mixed with Bruce Springsteen, that brought me back home
In my mind,

Growing into my 40s, so much life we have lived –
Childhood finished, that mess all done with
The excitement of my 20s, gradually dissipated in my 30s,
I had a job that required a few skills, that provided a nice Christmas bonus
For the first time in my life, the world felt pretty settled and peaceful

It was time to look back and discover the truth of what happened
I booked the ticket and hotel room, and flew back to Ohio
I hated Ohio buddy, it burnt me real bad, I never could find
What I was supposed to be there, a million bad memories,
Swam around in my head, my mind would make these sentences

“Why did you beat me?”
“Why didn’t you love me? All I ever wanted was love?”
“What was of the point of that, couldn’t we just be happy!”
“Why did you say those horrible things to me?”
“I loved you, but instead you wanted to play games?”

A bunch of resentment, oh I had it, I wanted revenge at times,
I would imagine fighting mother fuckers in yards,
I would imagine saying the perfect hurtful words to the women that were supposed to love me –

All these people that hurt me have gone on with their lives,
But they are still there, walking on dew covered grass and scraping ice off their car windows
While I was in the desert, looking up at pale blue skies and mountain vistas

I flew back home, drove down the old country roads
Sat with an old friend, we drank Lacroix and took a walk in the woods together.
There was a cornfield nearby, we went to the Italian place and ate chicken parm sandwiches,
We went to a high school football game, he showed me his chickens,
We played soccer in the yard with his son, all of us went to a birthday party
For a seven-year-old, a bonfire was lit, people had fun conversations,
I laughed a lot, and felt happy

I felt okay with the outskirts of town, my thoughts were not true –
There were a lot of parents who loved their kids there
There were strong men who went to work and loved their wives and kids,
There were strong women who went to work and worried about their husbands and kids
There was compassion and heartfelt tenderness

Maybe I’m revising my own history, maybe I have learned to judge
With a sense of wisdom
Old man status is my next step in life
I don’t want to think it was all horrible –
Maybe those old men had the same moment
“I have to rewrite this world, because I have to keep living in it.”
And that’s what we have to do, we have to keep living
On this Earth with its riots, serial killers, public shooters, and
Wars between governments
So, we tell ourselves a few lies