‘The End of the Reagan Era’ by Peter Balakian


by Peter Balakian

Endless horizons of wheat and corn
out of Willa Cather’s reach,
and Ross Perot moving through it all.

I clicked a lever for my candidate,
the curtains opened like at Oz,
and my vote blew out the doors of the Jehovah’s Witness hall.

I walked back through the saffrony maple leaves
just wet enough to stick to my basement trapdoor,
and sat outside and read some student papers on the Gulf War.

I thought of the states floating in their electoral colors
on the screen the way the Scuds and Patriots
flickered in their matrix dots before and after

the Giants played the Bills on Channel 4.
In another century Galileo said, “but still, it moves,”
under his breath, and today the Vatican agrees.

Since legends keep us sane, I think today
of Cianfa, one of the five thieves of Florence,
who was clasped by a six-foot lizard

who ate his nuts and went right up his torso
until the two of them were two-in-one.

I love the clemency of roads this time of year
the way they tail off to the beautiful barns.

About the Author:

Peter Balakian is an American poet. His book Ozone Journal from The University of Chicago Press was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. “The End of the Reagan Era” was published in “Dyer’s Thistle” (Carnegie Mellon, 1996).