My Enlightenment ~ T.R. Hummer


I lost my mojo back in 1982
     when Reagan was president. A lot
Went on. I was sore confused.
     I spent my mornings playing Texas Hold’em
With a gentleman’s gentleman from Austin
     who taught me Western Swing
Chord progressions on the steel guitar,
     “The greatest American music,”
He kept insisting, but I held out
     for the murder ballad, mostly
Out of sheer perversity. “Un-
     American, son” he rightly argued,
“But,” I countered, “Those Bob Wills songs
     are just too happy,” and it always shut him up.
You can’t dispute that great art shouldn’t
     make you suicidal, though neither of us
Believed it. Happiness is simply disgraceful
     among philosophers of academe.
That was decades ago, and the country
     kept choosing happiness, the smiling
Actor swiping the national credit card,
     and I went on in the deepest kind of sorrow,
Humming “Big Ball’s in Cowtown,”
     running the changes in “The Rose of San Antone.”