The Thrill of Victory
By Paul Clemente
It was decreed the show must go on!
The economy was tanking, and they couldn’t print money fast enough.
Every hangar converted into a makeshift infirmary
was equipped with a three-tiered victory stand.
Even holy men would pause from their busy schedules
performing record-breaking last rites ceremonies,
to be acknowledged (fists raised) with bronze, silver, or gold.
It was the final days of competition, yet because they had
been tallying the results all along, we had a pretty good idea
who was going to come out on top; it was amazing that
the committee had found an equivalent medical procedure
for every Olympic sporting event.
Medical staff were performing Herculean feats of strength and stamina.
The Mile Run was replaced with intubations per hour.
The Marathon by intubations per day.
--the track and field showcase turned upside-down--
Like the casualties list on the nightly news when I was a kid.
The Vietnam body count mixed with the Olympic medal count.
The motley Viet Cong winning the gold despite their losses.
Our choppers hurriedly retreating with their tails between their legs.
I’d like to think that honesty and objectivity outweigh patriotism
at times like this. That we judge the victors as well as
those who have lost, mainly upon their virtues and less upon their faults.
But I couldn’t help having a lump in my throat when they
announced the results. Let’s face it, the USA had mopped the floor
with every shit-hole country it could find. We were number one.
Nobody gets pneumococcus like the ol’ stars and stripes.
Mass American Graves Again! “Ya God damn right!”
Paul Clemente, emeritus environmental scientist with the NYSDEC, has published one chapbook "Luncheonette." A book of sonnets. He lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife and sons. "Albany has always played a part in my family lore. My mom and dad met at Albany State Teachers College in the fifties. My dad, a limber 88-year old Literature Professor at Fordham University, is Bill Kennedy's biggest fan!"