Meltdown

I do not know when it started,
The religious meltdown
Where I lost my faith
And my family blew away with the wind.

Maybe it started after the death of our family gatherings.
Where grandfathers, grandmothers, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers and cousins
Drove hundreds of miles to sit around the sagging
Table with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy
Along with pies:
Pecan, pumpkin, apple, mincemeat
And my dad’s favorite, a moist lemon cake
With snowy powdered sugar dusting the top.

On Thanksgiving, my dad and brother-in-law
Competed to see who could eat the most
As football games on TV filled my sister’s house with screaming fans.

It could have been after we stopped celebrating Christmas.
When I was ten and Mike was five,
We huddled behind the closed hallway door along with his younger sisters
Waiting for Santa to leave so we could rush the tree and rip into packages
Squealing with delight at what was discovered.

Then again, maybe it was when Easter expired
And that chocolate bunny
Stopped laying those eggs we once hunted in the grass.

Those fun family moments started to fade
At the same time Disneyland arrived,
Television became king,
Fast food replaced home cooking
And Ringo beat his drums on the Ed Sullivan Show
Introducing an epidemic of obesity along with video games and YouTube.

The free love movement and the pill did not help.
Everyone off doing their thing smoking dope, dropping acid,
Becoming an individual,
Listening to harsh music,
Protesting Vietnam,
Spitting on uniforms
Before going off to occupy a therapist’s couch
Looking for someone else to blame for their mistakes
While buying shrink-wrapped fun
And quivering in fear of HIV/AIDS
Soon followed by the next popular media-induced paranoia.

It seems as if my country, the land I was born in and fought for,
Is driving down a one-way street shouting drive-by hate,
Narcissistic me, me, me
While real families grow weeds.

For decades, I have been hunting for what was lost
Traveling the world looking for that ghost family
That may only exist in my imagination
When the laughter did not come from foul-mouthed comedians
And shock jocks.

Sometimes, in the early mornings, after I exercise,
Surrounded by the humming silence
While everyone else is sleeping
I open my mind to God
Asking if He were created to forgive man’s sins.
He answers.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

Crazy-is-Normal-a-classroom-expose-200x300

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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