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They could see me,

or so I thought

when I was a boy,

watching the anchor

share the news,

eyes sizzled into

mine, to check

if I gave a damn,

about all the children

being napalmed

in Vietnam,

the weatherman


my reaction,

to Sunday’s

call for rain,

then the bad guy


the sheriff,

sizing up the popcorn

in my bowl,

as he blew

on the muzzle

of his gun,

while I worried

if I’d have to

hand it over,

this lumpy, buttery mess,

that coated

my fingers

with gold,

that I’d better

change the channel

in a jiffy,

await the laughter

from the comic

on the stage,

who’d sneer

at my butterfly


an upgrade

from the underwear

I’d worn

the night before,

when Phyllis Diller

looked directly

in the camera,

chuckled yeah,

I can see you,

there on your

flowered couch,

scratching myself

in places

where I’d never

relieve an itch,

if I were stuck

in a crowded


or out on the

hill at recess,

playing scenes

of the old frontier,

when it would have been


as reaching for my gun,

that Wyatt Earp

would mow me down

for such a brazen move,

right between the eyes,

like Randolph Scott

had snarled

before my bedtime,

gazing out from our

TV, looking me

square in the face,

knowing I’d duck

beneath the blanket

like the kid across

the street had done

while seven years of age,

who’s unable

to watch a western

to this day,

sports a Jays cap

on his head

where a Stetson

would have been.

Andreas Gripp

November 15, 2023

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