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The Last Predicta TV

ISSUE:  Winter 2005

Martians, for instance, in their metal Frisbee
might appear from these immaculate
chrome borders themselves
spit-shined like Art Deco

mirrors. Pyramus and Thisbe
for the increasingly illiterate,
packed in shotgun houses like shelves,
1959 and ‘60 carried their cargo

of cardboard oracles and relevant trivia:
the Philco Model H341
had a sixteen-inch screen
swiveling on a smug, Chevy-like

chassis while the sports trivium—
baseball, football, baseball—won
over even wives and sugary teens
hungry as they were for barlight,

green men, no-hitters: in short,
anything that shines,
anything that makes lives
seem easy, seamless, slow to burn.

Picture my father—the sort
that buys a car and keeps it, whines
over nothing save his lawn and neckties—
only eighteen when the last wheel turned

on the Predicta assembly.
He’s looking into the future
of TV, a future continually there
an hour before he arrives

with popcorn, soft drink, and me,
or some version of me, in the aperture.
We’re like a seam that wants to tear,
he and I, that Predicta, and the lives

blooming there in Technicolor.
For each new generation a new genus
and the genius who named it,
who foretold the danger

the widely cultivated horror
of solid-state circuitry would be to us
who lived by the conduit,
cast in the die of the predictable stranger.


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