The Arrow of Time (in Black and White)
by Art Staner

The arrow of time
moves in only one direction,
There's no going back,
except in memory.

Pick a remembered moment:

Cowboys and Indians,
up there on the big screen.
But only on Sunday afternoons,
but only for us kids.

Folding chairs,
pulled out of the storeroom
and set up by us kids,
in rows,
sort of straight,
depending on scuffles
and such.

It was a smelly old warehouse,
owned by somebody
who knew
but only Sunday afternoons
(Even back then,
the arrow of time
six intervening days.
No getting around it
no matter how hard you
wished for it.)

They were old movies,
with white cowboys and
black and white Indians
flickering on the stretched-out
white sheet
that rippled whenever somebody
opened the door.

When the movies were done (disappointment),
the chairs had to be put away
with a clatter.
But still time to run to the park,
to play
cowboys and Indians.

Who gets to be the Durango Kid?
Who gets to be the Lone Ranger
and wear the mask?
(We knew who it was,
but we pretended not to.)

Nobody wanted to be Gene Autry,
because cowboys don't really sing.
But we watched his movies
because sooner or later
he would stop singing,
put down his guitar,
and shoot somebody.

But that was a long time ago,
and the arrow of time
shows no mercy.

Kids get old.
Candy gets old
(besides it's no longer
good for us).

The arrow of time moves
only in one direction,
so those days are gone,
whether we like it or not.

That warehouse got torn down.
Scraps of paper blow
across a weedy field.

Time moves on, and
memory can only bring back
the feel,
but not the exact smell,
of that musty old warehouse:
overheated projector,
candy stuck to the floor,
sweaty kids -

Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.

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