Me Vs. the Television

Me Vs. the Television

by John Fitzsimmons

The television is staring at me again
Static eyes right on time for our nightly game of chicken
We place bets on who will flicker first:
The coward on the couch
Or the faded face behind the screen
Threatening to clamber out

Some nights it’s the politician
With the iron stare and heavy fist
And if the end of the world had eyes
I swear that they’d be his:
Red hot like cattle prods, bullet wounds
They fry the air
I fan the fumes
A spark ignites the living room
And furniture turns to flame
But all I feel are red hot eyes casting red hot blame
That kind of heat makes it hard not to blink
But I refuse to flicker still

Some nights it’s the anchor
Bearing familiar tragic stories
Of those humans being animals and taking lives like trophies
Her face of melting wax begins to seep beyond the screen
It soaks the carpet
Slowly rises
But I know, deep down, she pities me
Because all she sees is a headline in the making
Refusing to blink first

Some nights it’s the comedian
That bloated corpse of circus tricks
Telling jokes at my expense
And winking eyes the size of pinpricks
When his jaw unhinges happily
To free his black hole mouth
I’ve never heard a sonic slice to eardrums like the laughter he lets out
It’s a smoke alarm cacophony, a hundred siren screams
And even though I know I am the funniest thing he’s ever seen
I won’t be the first to blink

Except tonight, there is no hiss of static
No buzz of life onscreen
There is no fire in the living room
Or wax beneath my feet
Tonight, no scheduled television
In its place is something worse:
A silence
An infinite blackness
And a face I don’t recognize
Wondering who will blink first