Alternate History Ep. II

The Seize of Time (2018) – Acrylic on wood. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Beginning again…


When Camelot survived

Secret Service man jumped

that big Lincoln early

took a bullet for his sire and

a year later

JFK is re-elected and

at the height of his power

he signs a civil rights bill in

Lincoln’s Springfield home and

he refuses to escalate the war in

Viet Nam

blythly skirting the red bleed

like only he or others like him can

those of his class

clad in linen and pique and

manners and assuredness.


By Tet in ‘68 he is done his

great mind elsewhere

working on a library and

a sailboat now and

what to do with Jackie and

Lyndon who hints he can

win the war by keeping us out

save for an espionage team and

some big money and

who seeks the prize he’s wanted

all his life just

like his opponent

old shadow on his face and

in his heart

Nixon’s coming again and

he’s coming up short again

to LBJ’s lie and a massive black turnout

in the closest election in

American history.


That Christmas

sensing an opportunity the

Viet Minh escalate and

press on toward Saigon and

by the new year of the

new decade the GOP

has painted the President

in soft pink and

the economy slows and

so do the polls

so LBJ breaks his promise and

sends in the troops

against a movement in ascendancy and

an army with momentum and

a war this messy can’t be

won in a year so

by ‘71 when the candidates are

beginning to prowl the

woods of New England the

fog of war has somehow produced

one clear idea that the

great nation is

losing the war.


The populace just wants the

fog abated and

the simplest fastest remedy will

do now because all of the

hand-wringing and

brain-scratching about

advising and

escalating got us a stalemate and

we want to be done and

that affable actor says he

can get it done

by force

in a year

without retreat

without recriminations

without really thinking it through

because government is the problem anyway

an unreasoning conviction

takes the stage embodied in

the affable actor and

LBJ trying to reason

around an enigma

is misplaced or

rather miscast and

his campaign flails at its

directive like a blinded soldier and

fails like a kind one.


The sexual revolution proceeds apace and

the Stars and Stripes is on the moon but

a dark mood gathers, molasses slow and

as if in an alternate universe

the affable actor tilts his head and



Surreal to many

a new wave travels eastward and

as if the embodiment of and

as if enfeebled by

forty years of American history

LBJ’s heart makes it just past the

inauguration where he watches the

affable actor disown the status quo of

a welfare state and Medicare for all of

an allied defense and

back channels with the Soviets.


It all must end

the new president says to

a hushed crowd save for

Curtis LeMay laughing with

the profiteers entering

in stride at stage right as

the hardliners inherit

the Viet Nam war.


-Danny Grosso


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