by Diana Goetsch

Diana Goetsch

Who are all these people . . .
ducking into boutiques, bouncing out
of cafés, younger, taller than ever—
Generation Dude? Generation
type w/my thumbs? We used to be
them, of course, only they don’t
have quite our panache, our
cast of characters; their dreams
seem so counterfeit; their exploits
pale in comparison to ours

as ours pale in comparison
to the madcap hijinks of the Rat Pack—
that jazz-crooning, highball-drinking,
fedora-wearing, celebrity-roasting,
mafioso-befriending, skirt-
chasing, ingénue-divorcing
cadre of song-and-dance men
that owned the strip and
ruled the night from Vegas
to Hollywood to Broadway,

predated, in turn, by young John Keats
and his circle of loyal Cockneys—
the irrepressible Leigh Hunt,
Charles Cowden Clarke that wild man,
and Fanny Brawne (of delicate ankle)—
peerless editors and correspondents
and composers of charming rondeaux,
who drew into their suburban fold
one Percy Bysshe Shelley, in a fleeting
moment of cultural transmission

that could never hope to rival
the ten-thousand-year sliver of time
in which a late Neanderthal spotted
an early Homo sapiens across a clover field,
eyeing the humble hominid
of smaller head and smoother brow
with what had to be an emotion
unprecedented in human, or non-
human history, uttering (more or less)
“Who the fuck are you?”

Last updated November 30, 2022