. . . You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye Who cheer when soldier lads march by, Sneak home and pray you'll never know The hell where youth and laughter go. Siegfried Sassoon, 1918

. Candlemaking .

The snow falls carefully everywhere, silent as a full moon night. TV tubes blather trivia into importance, while I shave wax for candles. Football players are accused, recanted, convicted; air-head Barbie newswomen don't know wind-chill from Fahrenheit. This candle will be red. NFL losses are Tragic... Wax curls off the knife, smooth and shining, fractures to perfect prisims, crumbling fragrant. Politicos shall not even think Impure thoughts... Nothing is ethnically balanced. Serious guests promote laws against beauty pagents. The top shows are all sit-coms; I strike the torch to flame. Wax begins to sag over heat while shells rumble and thump along the treeline. This candle will be the color of blood but the room will fill with gardenias, mystical. Bisexual basketball players are graded for fashion sense while napalm flares in orange flowers, leaved in black. Devout personalities decry irreversible damage done by TV violence as I stare, numb, calm, at the jelly that was once Johnny Boy. Tom, on the other hand, has become a fog of atomized meat. The wax flows wine-red into the mold, the smell delicious, the color horrifying, the announcer stupid and serious. Misery in Zaire merges perfectly with Baywatch Babes and telephone psychics...call Now!. We are separate species, America, you and I, my friends were vaporized for wrinkle-free fabrics, for faster pizza delivery and TV Blooper programming. I think we all died for Seinfeld...on the 6:00 O'Clock News. Wax cools from wine to blood, machineguns stutter, smoke drifts thru razor wire, but the important facts are on Entertainment Tonight, and you, Mr and Ms Public, do not know how the nerves jerk the corpse at the moment of death. The candle slides cool from the mold, votive, red, smelling of gardenia. The city, paralyzed by an inch of snow, entertains us with brainless fluff, much lighter than the snow, much lighter than the fog of Tom's flesh, floating in the jungle. I light the candle for Tom, for Johnny Boy; gardenias flare into strings of 500 pounders, thudding, bumping across the America of the mind. You didn't miss anything, boys, there is no America to speak of. Welcome Home .

Copyright © 1996 J.M.Hopkins