R.I.P., Evel Knievel

Rest in peace, Evel Knievel.
O leaper,
O thrill-seeker,
O wearer of patriotic jumpsuits, you
earned huge amounts of money
with your pointless, suicidal stunts,
and brought glory to America.
Yet the IRS chased you down
& stung you for millions
in unpaid taxes.
“World’s Greatest Daredevil.”
That was your title.
Which is strange because
on the big jumps
you always crashed.
Caesar’s Palace,
Snake River Canyon,
Wembley Stadium.
Boom. Splat. Boom. Splat. Boom. Splat.
Jon Ive says if someone crashed
that much in our business
they wouldn’t call you “world’s greatest.”
They’d call you Microsoft. Or Windows.
A bit unkind of him, I think.
Because you inspired people.
Including me. One time,
when I was thirteen, I built
a ramp on my street
& put on a cape
& a football helmet
& tried to jump a Schwinn Stingray
over three kindergarten kids.
Each kid lay on the pavement
holding a pair of enormous torches —
rolled-up newspapers doused in gasoline.
Flames leapt eight feet into the air.
Soon after this
as a condition of my parole
I joined my school’s electronics club.
The rest, as they say,
is history.