What year, what moment was it, when all the television aerials
came down from our roofs? And now, the skyline
is getting all junked up with dangerous-looking post-apocalyptic
telephone poles that list with hanging wires. You see them a lot
alongside railroad tracks. Depending on what song is playing
as we pass, it can begin to look orchestrated, some illustration
of our departure into decay. Cue the zombies or the apes
and go out abroad into the fields again.
“The future is a line of trees.” I like saying things like that,
something kind of smoky and getting out around the edges
of whatever one might want to pin it to. But isn’t that, itself,
a good description of the future? Or the post future, I suppose,
as we got to the future quite a while ago now. Sometime
in the ’60s, I think? When everything started happening
at the same time . . . only to end up
where all the telephone booths and tape decks ended up.
My father would take the TV up on the roof with him,
so that he could get the antenna positioned just so.
He quickly tired of having us help him. The endless calling out,
“How is it now?” and “Now try Channel 13!” which led invariably
to irritation when he’d come down and try the TV himself.
So there he was: Birmingham, Alabama, January, 1976,
up on the roof with his beige/gray jacket, the TV balanced
on a pile of blankets in front of him, the aerial
between them, riding the house, his arms up to the sky.
John Gallaher’s fifth book of poetry, In a Landscape, will be out in late 2014 from BOA Editions. A chapbook of his work, The Future of Love, just came out. “In a Landscape: XXXVI” was originally published in Game Theory (TLR, Spring 2014)