Threat Level Orange

by Judson Rose

Goodbye's are such fragile things.
I have delivered many in my time
meticulous, like clockwork, like
a venerated master of the art
of the farewell, and yet I
am still afraid every time.
There is not much difference
between the tickings of watches
and bombs--but what sort of
absurd comparison is this?
Maybe it is the turn of the century
that did it. After all, everything
seems to explode these days.

My generation was born with
mouths in the shape of an apology
and we learned to be guilty so
eloquently in those early years.
Gulty and afraid. Orange and red.
We are children well versed in eulogy.
It feels like betrayal of something
fundamental to be proud of our
ability to substantiate fear.

We were born at the tail end
of a fairy tale. We are the
epilogue to a story nobody can
remember anymore and even
fewer will believe. We live
with remorse haunting our palate,
and no amount of optimism or
alcohol can burn it away. No
digital media, no fuel-efficient
hybrid cars, no no-calorie sodas,
no fair-and-balanced television
coverage can wash the stain from
a generation so saturated with
the rotting orange stink
of paranoia. We are a generation
that only knows to say goodbye,
and we feel we are owed an apology--
but those are all orange too.

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