Old Media

Indeed I cling to the morning newspaper,

its relatively ancient news administered in ink

upon the crinolines of many dead trees,

like the postmortem of a marriage

those in the know already know has ended in divorce.


But radio, oh radio:  just one button each,

AM and FM, are programmed in my car to NPR.

I confess some nights I will exhume from the closet

the ancient portable and telescope its sleek antenna up

to troll the airwaves not for now but for the past.


And alas, much of its music is swallowed

by rant, skips of cant from Kalispell and Reno,

one especially hectoring blowhard broadcasting

at thirty-six billion megawatts from Hell,

California, his theme song stolen from the Eagles.


Then, just last week, on the long drive south

to north over Idaho, I pushed the seek button

in the pickup and let the radio roam.

Five seconds at every AM stop, the usual blather

collaged as a Dada sermon, interleaved


every trip across the dial by the churchly cantata

of Hank Williams, “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”

Just as the moon went behind a cloud,

the same clown from Hell spoke a line about secession,

followed by preacher preaching the sweetness of wealth,


and a huckster peddling the diet of the stars.

Then the silence of a falling star lit up

a purple passage on the evils of government

health care.  The next time Hank came back

I hit the button again, and it was Tommy Jackson’s fiddle,


right before the last verse started up once more:

the same falling star lit up the same sky, purple this time,

though by then I was nearly all the way down

into the hell-and-gone Salmon River canyon,

and Hank disappeared into static I listened to still.