The anchorwoman is unsmiling, even somber,
for her biggest stories are about death,
and even when she has a feature
on a twelve-year-old college student
or a gorilla who understands sign language,
there is something tentative about her relief:
she knows that the Great Antagonist
will strike again, and soon.
The weatherman smiles a lot,
but he is making the best of a bad thing,
for the weather is necessary, yes,
but boring. As for the actors
in the commercials, they are jovial
yet insincere, for they do not love the lotions,
sprays, and gargles they urge us to buy,
products that are bad for us anyway and overpriced.
Only the sportscaster is happy, for sports news
is good news: money always changes hands,
and if someone has lost that day, someone else has won.
Should anyone die, that’s death, not sports,
and death is the anchorwoman’s department.
Even if the Soviets should fire all their missiles at us
and vice versa, the sportscaster will still be happy:
you can’t cover everything in a half hour,
for crissakes, and sports will be all that is left.
There will be no jobs to go to,
and our cars won’t work,
and there will be no electricity,
but you can make a ball out of anything,
and then all you need is a line to get it across
or a hoop to put it through.
The sportscaster knows how the world will end:
not with a whimper, not with a bang,
but with a cheer.
From I Think I am Going to Call My Wife Paraguay (Orchises).
Used with the author’s permission.