The ballad of Dean Reed
John Goodby (2003)
In that twilight zone between Cuba and Ruby
Communism equalled Soviet power plus
electric guitar. Why not unplug, and go East?
Saints James and John translate you Saint Cyril
Awopbopaloobop; from Alma-Ata
to Brno Pioneers will swoon as you scrub
My Lai gore from Old Glory in a bucket.
Engelbert of Engelsstadt! Leader of the Pact!
Karloff-brows forgave the Mash Potato,
the muzhik's cow twisted, kicked its half-full pail
and red suede shoes twist the New Kid on the Bloc.
Che and Chuck Berry kiss on a dacha wall
in moonlight! The 'Human Face' beams a No
to Novocherassk. The Progressive Camp!
Red Elvis, Jack London of rock 'n' roll, you
were sold out everywhere - The King was dead,
but in more films than the King you rode
in blini Easterns, from Little Big Horn
to Little Big Horn, Sitting Bull for Red Indian
Bulgar Sioux. And when the mooncalf glistened
like Tannebaum, pointless, in the acid rain,
you'd swansung already with Don, glasnost
glasnost, like Johnny Rose's call from Loveland,
Colorado. Nate hisses 'Love Land? Rose. Was...?'
Comebacks? Like any barb removed, this one howls
for chameleon blood, you slash your left arm
useless, it's no good. Charred Trabis mark the road
to Babelsberg, through woods. The path turns
down to a small lake. The thick grass D.A.'d
under the red Harley so flagrantly at rest.
John Goodby lectures in English at the University of Wales. He is
the author of A Birmingham Yank (ARC Publications 1998) and Irish poetry
since 1950: From stillness into history (Manchester University Press 2000).