Fall 1991 • Vol. XIII No. 4 PoetryOctober 1, 1991 |

The Idiot Box

"But can it core an apple?" Norton asks Kramden,another get-rich-quick scheme of theirs gone awry. This time they peddle knives on TV, as if they could ever sell enough to get Norton out of the sewer, Ralph off his bus route. This late at night, almost nothing's on but reruns—Lucy bawling after Ricky, The Odd Couple clashing, Spock and Captain Kirkon the flimsy set of the Enterprise.In his room, my father snores gently, asleep despite the TV's glare, its volume. He's even got the radio on—classical—I don't know how he sleeps.Awake, I stir at small sounds—wind in the eaves, mice skitteringbetween walls and floorboards. If I turn off his set, he'll wake, protest, say he was watching whatever was on. So I lie in bed in a housewhere four broken sets haven't been thrown away. One black and white set belonged to my grandmother, a woman pale enoughto pass, miserable unless she watchedLawrence Welk—the old couplesdancing wanly in crepe and polyester,the chipper cast singing show t

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Allison Joseph lives, writes, and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where she's been on the creative writing faculty of Southern Illinois University since 1994. Her most recent books include My Father's Kites (Steel Toe Books), Trace Particles (Backbone Press), and Little Epiphanies (Imaginary Friend Press). A 1988 graduate of Kenyon College, this poem was her among her first published poems.

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