NaPoMo April 7 – notes toward a poem

and by “notes toward” I mean the ideas that may underlie a poem someday. I used to write just like this—have a deep-something-to-say, write it in short lines with rich language and be done. But that’s like scribbling some lyrics and claiming to have a song!

But poem-a-day is a difficult pace and often means “poem first draft a day.” Today’s poem first draft is historically based: on this date in 1927, the first city-to-city television broadcast occurred. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover was in DC and his audience was in New York. After some moments of Profound Blather about the greatness of this tool, the real entertainment came on—a comedian in blackface. I think that the music of this poem wants to be a sonnet. Its got bits of rhythm going, and the internal turns and twists of a sonnet. We’ll see.

the transmission of sight, for the first time in the world’s history
(Herbert Hoover, opening statement of the first city-to-city television broadcast)

Proudly announced on the first television broadcast, D.C. to NYC
Directly after: a comedian in blackface
And so it goes
And so it’s gone ever since, blackface, womanface, childface,
redneck face, youcantrustmeface, with the transmission of sight
masks glued on, a new way to profit from prejudice so now
my country’s vicious idiocy can be spread
as capitalist-gospel truth
How I’d like to pretend language rises above that fray but
what language rises higher than billboards or blimps?
We make a new way to communicate, we make a new way to lie,
telling you a story and selling you a story just sweet
phonemic first cousins, truth a matter of road to hell,
good intentions, how arrogant we poets can be, complacently believing
we are somehow different from tv


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