The Duncan Imperial yoyo,
available in the toy aisles of five & dimes and supermarkets
of the early sixties in perhaps four colors.
Red. Yellow. Blue, I think. And green.
An elegant gold crown embossed on the face.
A yoyo fit for a queen.
Unlike previous yoyos it had a stainless steel axle!
Previous yoyos suffered from wooden axles,
high friction coefficients making tricks like "sleeping"
or "walking the dog" damn near impossible.
All those fifties-era yoyos could do was yoyo!
Then along came Sputnik, maybe Teflon
was in there somewhere, a handsome new president—
and ladies and gentlemen, I give you
Plastic and perfect. Solid and sweet.
Palm-sized, pocket-sized, one dollar, one yoyo.
Thus we entered the Space Age, dogs and men
in orbit, my parents divorced and spinning off,
my father weightless in booze. Puberty rising
like a zit, Cuban missiles pointing
their little heads at us, and voila!
The great factories began to extrude
yoyos, Duncan Imperials
for the lost ten-year-olds of America,
and for a whole year or two we walked
the green Midwestern avenues in the shadow
of elm trees and the Bomb, as our moms smoked
Camels and turned radioactive, the grainy president
died on the Magnavox,
and nothing to protect us, nothing to hold onto,
but a palm-sized red or gold-colored, stainless steel-axled,
talismanic and gorgeously extruded
Duncan Imperial yoyo,
spinning magically from our small hands
The Flying Saucer. Over the Falls.
Rock the Cradle and Loop de Loop.
Round the World.
Split the Atom. Shoot