Talking to the Dead on Television"I'm getting a George here"
he says to the adoring throng
"He may be alive, or he may be dead
but I don't really know."
I expect an apparition
or at least the faint strains of celestial music,
but am greeted instead by comatose nods
and one stifled sob from the rear row.
They line up like a pack of cards
to see the master pull the abusive uncle
and the alcoholic father from the grave.
All of the dead have something to say.
They speak in many voices
between convenient sponsor breaks.
I think of "Bozo's Circus"—
two lucky children chosen to win the bicycle
while the others stew with unconcealed envy.
The dead will need to take turns,
just as they did when they were alive—
The living are in charge,
they demand satisfaction.
"Did someone's aunt enjoy cooking?"
the master suddenly inquires,
"I smell a casserole!"
"My God, yes!" shrieks a woman from the front row,
"My aunt Shirley baked casseroles every night!"
Another successful connection to the grave
established in time for a commercial break,
"Are you over the age of forty-five?
Have you given any thought to life insurance?
What would your loved ones do if you were dead?"
I am officially in the category of the aged.
It's something I swore would never happen.
My loved ones would probably be clueless.
The laundry would fester in a mildewed pile,
the electricity would be disconnected,
and our decrepit auto repossessed.
My family might end up on television,
begging to know how long they should cook the salmon,
cursing me loudly for shirking my post.
I would refuse to answer.
My soul would repose permanently
on a tropical beach, glass in hand,
blissfully deaf to their pitiful cries,
ignoring all requests for me to visit.