Before old people got boring

What stories did old people tell when they didn’t talk
about how movies changed our mating customs
and TV and computers made our faces go slack
or about when people actually listened at concerts
instead of recording with their phones, and nobody
dot-commed himself, and if you saw somebody walking
alone talking to no one visible he was crazy?

What did they talk about before they talked
about how letters were delivered by a neighbor
from a friend written weeks ago, or when to get
to the coast you rode in a chicken bus or on a mule
and it took three days, two weeks, six months
to get there, when you could get there, before
the place was ruined by too many cars and cooked
drugs and flavorless food, before the young
went away or stayed inside all day and got fat
playing video games?

What did they talk about before they talked
about how steamboats ruined the river, how
before the railroad came everybody knew
everybody, back before the wheel made
everything easy, when men carrying rocks
built the pyramids and women carrying water
kept us alive and clean, back when it was dark
at night unless somebody had matches or flint,
in those old days when people made music
with two sticks and a hide and to talk to someone
you had to go find him and to go anywhere you
had to walk sometimes for days and nights
under stars you knew as your gods and your friends?

What did old people talk about before they talked
about how new things came and changed how men
became men and women became women and children
were raised, how new things came and changed
how we measure time and virtue, and how when
people went away you never saw or heard from them
again until they came back, and your heart ached
with longing, in those days when people ate or felt
hungry, stayed healthy or died of the plague or the pox,
loved or were lonely, defeated their enemies and danced
in abundance or suffered in want and misery in that long
ago ninety-nine percent of human history when children
woke to the same bright sun and spent their days
looking at the same world and doing the same things
their grandparents and great grandparents had done?

Love, death, the moon, floods, fires, famines.
I’m just guessing here.
The gods, heroes, fools, great deeds, and how
it all came to be, back in those good old days
before old people got boring.