Old school music
burnt orange
people at the table across from me

ordered spaghetti.
The waiter jerked, stumbled,

and it fell to the floor. She is fired
Economics really is the issue.
I dropped my hamburger at the intersection of

the 5th and Madison Avenue.
A yellow cab rolled over the edge.

The pigeons scrambled in flight, away, away.
The news came in over a radio

at the burger joint.
Government espionage, death, assassinations,

and the threat of war.
An old woman dressed in black with a fashion-

able hat sat at the lunch counter.
She had a veil to hide her face in the mourning.

And for whom does the bell toll?
Sport talk radio.
All the bars serving are presenting sports t.v. Any game will do. The veil.
An hour later the hamburger mixed with the

crosswalk paint on the blacktop
still looked like mush. A bit terrifying to look at

the veil.
A discussion at the bar

resulted in half the audience wanting to raise a flag atop the building.
Others wanted to burn it, truth be told. A car, a truck, a city bus, all ran over the
hamburger with onions. Then the rain came
it no longer looked like art. Rather, it looked like a bomb had hit
the veil.
Truth is so unrecognizable until what is a lie and policies versus law becomes distorted between guidelines, imagination, and rhetoric.
The pigeons could do nothing with the rain-soaked mush once known as a hamburger with onions, tomatoes, and lettuce.

But late that night a rat came from outta the sewer and ate it all.
The news says we are all in favor of war— patriotism.
The poll has been taken, then came a commercial advertisement.
The veil.
At the lunch counter the woman in black returned the very next day.
I suppose mourning must continue, if the public is ever brought to the reality of death and the lost.

For once the veil is taken away, we will all come to an agreement that dying is not easy and fear contained within
is real enough to divorce
oneself from the frolic, denial and the illusion of

unreal laughter contained in the mask that we all wear. But with bodies splattered,
flesh and blood everywhere
can create a different reality which

not even dreams can interpret. But as for now
the veil so desperately needed to hide truth.

Charles Blackwell is a nationally and internationally published poet who lives in Oakland.