when I wanted to be Johnny

When I was fifteen years old
someone asked who I wanted to be
when I grew up
and there was only one guy
I could think of
so I said
“I want to be just like

Johnny –”

— Johnny Carson

not because I wanted to
be a TV guy
who wore great suits
and lived in Los Angeles, California
(which was a long way from…
Minden, Nebraska
and far from Las Cruces, New Mexico
and far from Hibbing, Minnesota
and St. Charles, Iowa
and Laughlin, Nevada…

where I grew up…)
but maybe it was because
Johnny was so much unlike
Uncle Morris, who
drank each evening, and
lost the farm to the bank
and lost his wife to a charlatan
and his children to The County.

Perhaps it was because Johnny,
exuded behemoth cool
with the cigarette carefully hidden
beneath the desk
(the minimalist)
each breath measured and timed
that reassured me each night
at ten thirty (Central Time)
that sanity ruled

after all.