by Carl Boon

The day Tehran fell,
my father gathered his quarters
and drove us to the mall.
He wanted to play
Space Invaders, perform
that vital American work
of responding, saving, destroying.
The arcade had a future sound,
a mesmerizing sound,
a sound of 1979,
which to my ears meant
nothing bad could ever happen
in the world. While he played
we roamed in the light
and looked at shoes
and ate caramel corn and I
remember wanting
a shiny blue balloon
that showed fifty American stars.
I carried a quarter in the pocket
of my jeans, and it was better
than being in the first grade,
that balloon, and better
than the Shah, the Khomeni,
even better than Heather Haley’s
chrome and downcast eyes.
My father won and lost because
that’s what fathers do,
and on the way home, the radio on,
we stopped at Burger King
and ate hamburgers,
but he drank coffee, my father,
inside the fragile understanding
that none of us could save the world.

Carl Boon is the author of the full-length collection Places & Names: Poems (The Nasiona Press, 2019). His writing has appeared in many journals and magazines, including Prairie SchoonerPosit, and The Adroit Journal. He received his PhD in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University in 2007, and currently lives in Izmir, Turkey, where he teaches courses in American literature at Dokuz Eylül University.