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A poem by Jessica de Koninck

Right in the living room
Jack Ruby whips out a pistol
and shoots Lee Harvey Oswald

who doubles over, falls to the floor.
Again and again the scene repeats
in black and white. Anchormen in light

shirts and dark ties pontificate
while sweating televangelists predict
damnation. James Cagney takes

a bullet too only he keeps talking.
On a different channel he sings. He dances.
Ruby stretches. Oswald collapses.

Life might be safer out in space if only
the shuttle would not explode
during breakfast, and again

after dinner and then before bed.
School Teacher, Astronaut, Indian Chief.
Starship Enterprise never blows up,

even at warp speed. Spock can
sort things out. Vulcans are part
prophet, part angel. They rely on intellect,

not feelings, and most of the time
sex is no problem. Except that
one episode with the parallel universe,

the good Spock and the bad Spock.
Hard to tell one from the other,
but God must like Spock.

Though I don’t believe God
watches that much TV. Maybe
the Twilight Zone or the Sopranos.

I could stop switching
the remote and avoid those
sorry reruns; no reality shows,
no MASH helicopters
transport wounded GIs
across Korea. No smoke,

no screams. No towers
crumble as if in slow motion:
first one, moments later, the other.

 

Jessica de Koninck is Jewish Currents poetry editor and author of Cutting Room, from which this poem is borrowed.