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poetry The Americans

Thanksgiving Day is surely an American holiday, even for some subversives who defy the US government--at least on TV!

The Americans

By Peter Neil Carroll

                                   “The last Thursday in November…is the one day

                                     that is purely American.”  Sidney Porter (O’Henry)

After the turkey’s been sliced and swallowed, thoughts

turn to Thanksgivings past, years of hosting open house,

the old folks gone, reading O’Henry aloud to the kids,

but now my kids propose another post-prandial binge,

beyond boring pumpkin pie, to watch a TV series

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aptly named The Americans about Russian spies,

based on “a true story” of a couple living in suburban

New Jersey, raising a typical American family as they

seduce clueless citizens and ferret government secrets.

Aliens by birth and training, the characters adjust easily

to indigenous lifestyles—pizza, burgers, TV and hang out

over beers with the man next door who happens to be

an FBI agent searching for spies. Their parallel lives

blur as family problems arise, their teens fall in love, 

the real Americans get divorced, saddening the Ruskies.

Appearances aside, the spooks perform their dirty deeds

with shameless guile, lie to all, wear shades, wigs, beards

while showing gory expertise in murder and mayhem.

On this purely American day, nonetheless, I’m rooting for

the enemies, as the filmmakers apparently intend. Compared

to Pilgrim patriarchs, the evil-doers treat each other nicely.

This liberated mother grooms her daughter to succeed in

karate and espionage, shares the risk, danger and thrill of

defeating the impersonal bureaucracy run by dull men.

Even when trapped, our fugitives escape as smoothly as

Houdini slipped locks and chain. They are me in my wildest

fantasy of freedom, whipping Big Brother and the gods of law.

Peter Neil Carroll has published two new collections of poetry this year: Talking to Strangers: Poetry of Everyday Life (Turning Point) and This Land, These People. The 50 States which won the Prize Americana from the Institute for the Study of Popular Culture.