Ronald Reagan Was an Idiot (and other observations about my birth year)
I was born late. I could give any number of reasons I wanted to stay put. Every birth is a bad hair day for the baby. The star of Bedtime for Bonzo had been elected to lead us through the Cold War. Maybe I wanted to stick it out until Christmas. Jews born on Christmas wind up a pretty big deal sometimes. Plus, the world can be a scary place. My mom saw The Shining while I was in utero. In my cocoon it must have sounded like a whisper wielding an ax. There’s nothing more sinister than a secret. How it makes the ears twitch like a dog barking at an earthquake that’s not yet shook. I wonder if I mouthed Here’s Johnny as I burst into the world. I was born in the winter of 1981 to a twenty-below wind-chill. In other words, I was born into a world where we still had winter. They don’t tell children their plans to keep us warm, to poison the air until the snow melts so the mosquitos can fly their violent love anywhere they wish. When I was born, the President was an idiot. Chalking this up to dementia is an insult to dementia. But when you’re born into the right skin to parents who can tell the churches what to teach, you can go from shitty actor to shitty governor to shitty president and still die to become the deity so many pray to when they’re lying awake at night fearing demographic shifts. There’s nothing more sinister than a secret we all know but pretend to forget. How every newborn is the property of their ancestors’ access to wheat. How the cradle can be the grave. How the grave can be a magic phone booth that makes men perfect, redacts our flaws like a designer toupee. Every funeral is a good hair day for the dead. Even the most desperate comb-over appears at peace. But the seas are rising. The ground is thawing. And the warm flooding earth doesn’t preserve anything.
Rota is a spoken word poet, author, and public interest lawyer living in Ann Arbor Michigan, by way of Chicago. He has been featured in Button Poetry, FreezeRay Poetry, Alternating Current (forthcoming), the Jet Fuel Review and elsewhere. By day, he supervises students providing free representation to veterans at Michigan Law School. His attempts to tour have proved difficult due to his terrible sense of direction. You can’t miss him. He’s the tallest Jew for miles.