Nice Pants

"Nice pants,"
The fourteen-year-old told me,
And I suddenly found myself
Fixed in my era
Like a mosquito in amber
My belly full of the blueprints for dinosaurs.
My age is divined by a forked branch from some mystical tree
Pointing back to an add campaign
Twenty years ago
The woman stops the car to tell the hitchhiker
"Nice pants,"
But now she's shrunk
To this two-bit punk kid
Proud gang member
Late to class each day
Facial muscles slack with an affected apathy
Masking a real stupidity
He'd give his soul away for a compliment
From a super model
Or the tougher kid on his street
Or a misinterpreted rap lyric
He's the most cynical advertiser's wet dream.

But I'm also standing in the cement of the global economy
Hot lava meltdown revealing nothing but gas bubbles
Borders as invisible as credit
Cultures pushed into the bedrock
By liquidity, liquidity, liquidity
And I can't help but think,
In England
"Nice pants"
Refers to underwear.

And then I'm back in America
At the tail end of one of the world's least glorious empires
All empty shell casings and disco music
Stuffed with incendiary sarcasm
Made more deadly by it's lack of cleverness
As much beauty and truth as the plaque I brush off my teeth
While I look in the mirror
Too tired to teach tomorrow
But I'll go
Wearing different pants.