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.