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J A N U A R Y   1 9 9 5

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by Rodney Jones

Hear Rodney Jones read this poem (in RealAudio).

(For help, see a note about the audio.)

Also by Rodney Jones:
Raccoon Time (1999)
Plea for Forgiveness (1998)
Two Poems (1996)
On Pickiness (1996)

Go to:
An Audible Anthology
Poetry Pages

All the preachers claiming it was Satan--
And now the first sets seem more venerable
Than Abraham or Williamsburg
Or the avant-garde, but then nothing,

Not even the bomb, had ever looked so new,
So it seemed almost heretical watching it
When we visited relatives in the city,
Secretly delighting, but saying later,

After church, probably it would not last,
It would destroy things: the standards,
And the sacredness of words in books.
So it was well into the age of color,

And Korea and Little Rock long past,
Before anyone got one, and then some
Of them in the next valley had one,
And you would know them by their lights

Burning late at night, and the recentness
And distance of events entering their talk,
But not one in our valley; for a long time
No one had one, so when the first one

Arrived in the van from the furniture store
And the men had set the box on the lawn,
At first we stood back from it, circling it
As they raised the antenna and staked in

The guy wires before taking it in the door,
And I seem to recall a kind of blue light
Flickering from inside and then a woman
Calling out that they had got it tuned in--

A little fuzzy, a ghost picture, but something
That would stay with us, the way we hurried
Down the dirt road, the stars, the silence,
Then everyone disappearing into the houses.

Rodney Jones teaches creative writing at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He is the author of several books, the most recent of which is Apocalyptic Narrative and Other Poems (1993).

Copyright © 1995 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; January 1995; TV; Volume 275, No. 1; page 52.

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