By Jason Youngclaus

I am not a modern man.

I am not a modern man.

I’m another American----

Writing from the perspective of the

Wholesome-----shattered---- “I.”

I like things the way I imagined

they were.

I have a glorified vision

of the old west,

And see myself as a dignified gambler,

Who dealt cheats

From the bottom of the deck---

Who carried a gun and was always justified

If using it---

Who wins drinking contests out of self-respect.

And protests timeless government wars of tax neglect.

And plays toward them, the music of ages from his jail cell---verbatim,

Taming his guards, enabling him to

Spring his locks backwards,

And turn their workings on his captors.  

To know him was to know that

He couldn’t survive without friends---to him,

They seemed a clearer voicing than himself

And for that reason he held with him the strident,

Begrudging spirit of a

Dreamer dreaming involuntarily.

He held it daringly,

Like a bird breeder might hold a bee,

Like something you can always feel but never do see.

 

I melt out of my skin when I watch The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

I fuse with the world outside my own every chance I get---it expands me.

I’m naïve about everything--and easily entertained.

And though I’ve never gone hungry,

I’ve imagined myself a famine’d potato farmer in Ireland---

If only to pass the time…

Who listens to the wind with seashell ears

And peers achingly down the cliff bluffs at dawn

Like a son to his father’s last words.

With 74 cousins, 5 of whom were captured

At Shankhill by UDA popinjays.

Three came back, two survived

One thrived, the other

Succumbed to invariable bloodlust.

But all, having felt much in their youth,

challenged the lessons of their elders…

I’ve screamed at their invented faces,

In uncertain times, regretted it---

But always respected their beautiful struggle and love of family.

Endlessly grateful for their flesh and vision, a conduit of their calling

Entangled with a zest for self-determination transcending generations

Understanding, but not enabling, the rogues among them

Helping them along the rugged ocean of life,

Like an augmented chord under a mournful melody.

 

If I had a song to listen to, three minutes before I die

Whether now or in another life…

(At this particular moment I feel like)

It would be “If I Should Fall from Grace with God,”

By Shane McGowan and the Pogues.  

Probably….   

 

It’s not improbable that I’d have been the one who killed Custer

Or Custer himself.

I could have been an animate object,

Like a rusted automobile, or a mustard seed.

I’m pretty sure that I’d have gotten on well in the colonies circa 1776.

I would have rung the timeless bell of protest in public;

Whether latent or in motion, and

Lamented--- alone, flustered and in need.

 

And if I was alive in 1967 in Haight-Asbury

I would have passed the acid test with flying colors.

(And never known the dull clichés.)

But then again George Harrison was disappointed

When he went by the bay.

But then again he was on acid,

And didn’t respect his elders.

 

I would have been a real angry guy, though,

If I was mixed up in the Hatfield-McCoy feud.

I would’ve carried a gun with me wherever I went.

May have been the one to give the thing

A two-syllable female name

That rhymed with the nearest mountain

Around which his family planned its futile defense.

Never the one to know where he’d find his

Next drinkable cup of water----ironically

His palms never stopped sweating forth

The clear liquid through which his eyes were getting

So used to seeing---not the future but the

Alluring, everpresent now setting.

 

(Would I have seen then what I am seeing now?)

If only…If only I could act without regretting.

I can see the beauty in what I experience---

But not enough of it…

I move through many a dim reptilian fear:

Of being wrapped in a spider’s netting,

Of watching time slip away, like Otis Redding,

Of being the one getting,

The free world’s next Sacco and Vanzetting.

Of being hurled off the top of the first tower I build,

Of feeling like a Ralph Steadman character’s shill---

And so I live variably through the flourishing virus

Of these romantiquated imaginings;

Which I hold in neither high, nor low regard,

But will not be soon forgetting.

This is why I am not a modern man.

I know this because, if I really wanted to, I could do what a modern man can.

 

So go ahead, paint the living world as red as you’ve planned.

My visions will never change their shape in the sand.

Will the cure come too late?

I am the antidote to modernity---I do not have a fate.

A disease preys on its host, I’m the disease that makes the disease a host.

I prey on the disease, and in bewilderment stare, assuredly,

At a flag half mast on a post; (though I’m not sure why.)

This is not to say

I’m the cure---

I don’t even have a fate…at least not at the moment.

But evidently,

That’s what I tell myself

In the uncertainty of the present.

 

I am not timeless either,

So instead I half-heartedly relate, and live drifting in the ether.  

Outside, in, and around societies’ gates

I am like any of the other men who do not live in these modern times---

Ill, my will affected by the modern state.

I live perilously close, above and under;

I’m an average guy-----I’m up to speed but I’m no modern man.

At least not quite, At least not today.

I was born in 1983,

I can’t be anything but what I am.

I can’t be anything but what I am,

But I am not a modern man.

I am not a modern man.

I am not a modern man.

This has become my bold dystopian mantra.

Need anymore proof?

I couldn’t have typed this poem up,

I had to write it out by hand.

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