With fists, with words, with kindness
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Toward the end he sat on the back porch,
sweeping his binoculars back and forth
over the dry scrub-brush and arroyos,
certain he saw Mexicans
moving through the creosote and sage
while the TV commentators in the living room,
turned up loud enough for a deaf person to hear,
kept pouring gasoline on his anxiety and rage.
In the end he preferred to think about illegal aliens,
about welfare moms and healthcare socialists,
than about the uncomfortable sensation of the disease
crawling through his tunnels in the night,
crossing the river between his liver and his spleen.
It was just his luck
to be born in the historical period
that would eventually be known
as the twilight of the white male dinosaur,
feeling weaker and more swollen every day,
with the earth gradually looking more like hell
and a strange smell rising from the kitchen sink.
In the background those big male voices
went on and on, turning the old crank
about hard work and god, waving the flag
and whipping the dread into a froth.
Then one day my father had finished
his surveillance, or it had finished him,
and the cable-TV guy
showed up at the house apologetically
to take back the company equipment:
the complicated black box with the dangling cord,
and the gray rectangular remote control,
like a little coffin.
Tony Hoagland’s poem “Cause of Death: Fox News” [May 2016] struck a chord. I recently left my husband, though I’d promised him I wouldn’t. I just couldn’t take it any longer. For the last decade Fox News was the soundtrack of my life: urgent voices warning of looming disaster while my husband sent hate-filled e-mails claiming that the Others were taking over our country. His only conversation consisted of gibberish he’d heard from his favorite anchors.
When I last saw my husband, he was stomping around behind the house, scanning the surrounding area for rattlesnakes, Mexicans, and Muslims.