On this, the two hundred forty-third birthday
of our nation, I woke from a dream of Nikola Tesla,
that immigrant who invented half of everything
and probably could have improved the rest
had we given him unlimited heart transplants.
In the dream, I was insisting that he’d done more
for this country than anybody before or after,
an odd thing to assert in my grandpa’s living room
three states away—but not as odd as that stranger
charging up to argue with me, until we decided
to settle the matter with a few rounds of fisticuffs
like old Irish boxers who still remember
the Marquess of Queensberry rules,
though they don’t apply to much else these days.
I would like to tell you who won but I can’t.
The alarm went off and I found my future wife
with flour on her nose, already frosting
a star-spangled banner cake for the party later,
a bag of rainbow sparklers and bottle rockets
already leaning by the sliding porch door,
the dog already hiding under the bed,
whimpering softly into his bowl of treats.