The New Cool
In the 70’s the Guadalajara cartel exported food bags of pot
On Cessna 150’s for the subversive Americans
To fuel rebellion, and alleviate any misgivings
About insubordinate behavior:
And that, the defiant Americans thought, was cool.
In the 80’s the Cali mafia exported cocaine on DC-3’s, in little baggies
Worth thousands of dollars apiece to the euphoric Americans,
Elated about the benevolence of capitalism,
In order to drive the all-night stock market speculations,
So we could all make manifest our destiny of becoming rich:
And that, the ecstatic Americans thought, was cool.
In the 90’s the Taliban refined Afghani heroin
And carried it over porous borders
To the Americans marveling that we were
Finally undisputed champions of the world
Now that Gorbachev backed down:
And that, the intoxicated Americans thought, was cool.
In the early 21st century MS-13 started manufacturing ecstasy
That people could smuggle over the borders
In VW buses to the Americans still awe-ful about
Our place in the world, but wondering why
The loony is worth more than the dollar:
And that the rebellious teenaged Americans thought, maybe, was still cool.
Today things have changed.
Today the third world exports the pain, disillusion and unemployment
That they have known and cultivated an immunity
Against while we were safely expanding our minds
Behind the fortress of our laurels.
Today we import the pain we never thought we’d be subjected to
Through bloody memoirs, wrapped in the skin of immigrants,
Wrapped in the package of images instantly
Transmitted around the globe
That subject us, our peers, and our children
To the vicarious trauma of lived experience.
Today we import the concerns of others
Who we ignored for years
And who we cannot, on pain of death
Continue to ignore.
Today, my students, or rather hepcats, looked at me
A wanton collage of histories,
Individual, but all part of the same stream
With ideas about cool. These ideas
Are part of a cycle they have not lived enough
To see revolve.
One wore a black hoody with a pot leaf
And shrugged every time I asked him a question.
Another sat in the back of the class sniffling,
Miniskirt and high heels,
Eyes and nose shining like Christmas,
And every time I asked a question, said
“What was the question?”
At last, one in a solid white T, near the front of class,
Threw me a bone on the meaning of meta-discourse
And metaphor; she attempted to say something meaningful.
And this: efficiency, ingenuity, and responsibility
We are all coming to learn, is the new cool.