In the 80s

Back in the 80s, we were going to die

of nuclear war, whether instant or

over-wintered, in a flash or frozen slowly.

 

In the 80s, we danced to big-hair music

genderbending stars with cocaine voices

synthesizing freedom, formulaic fun.

 

80s, and rumours from New York and San Francisco

disco drugs and a mysterious monkey to blame

or a gay-hating God to be praised, either way, fear.

 

We walked under stars on Tunnel Mountain, wondering

could you catch it from a swimming pool, a restaurant glass?

Was it more dangerous than this park’s well-trodden bears?

 

We were to condemn Russia for interfering in Afghanistan.

We were to praise Robert Mugabe and Aung San Suu Kyi.

In Spanish class, the woke opined on Central America’s plight.

 

We were to hate Apartheid South Africa, but never heard out loud

what was whispered in Indigenous (we were Native then) circles

that ‘African homeland’ equalled ‘Indian Reservation.’

 

And nobody told me how, in Japan, that miracle of the 80s

where Tokyo bestrode the world’s imagination, flashing bright

Hiroshima was quietly filling with youth in power suits.

 

But already (or still) in the 80s, going to Mexico

carried warnings, against which, as ever, to wave

a tiny flag – memory, history, hope, a deep breath –

 

Dr. Helen Caldicott on Merv Griffin told me one night

that, I must do something, too,  about the DEW Line base

must personally stop the Nukes. I stayed awake

 

’til Dad came home from métis political

meeting and dance, told me to learn my reach

let the rest rest, we each do what we can.

 

In the 80s, the end was nigh, now

teenagers in my livingroom play old 80s tunes

legendary, outlasting context, free.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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