Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mayberry/Babalu

Public domain image

Mayberry, it seems, won't ever vanish,
is ever softly etched in phosphors
on the small, gray, horizontal bars
some remember as 1966.
Most of the principal players
are alive, but the two actors,
the ones in the cell,
wizened by World War II,
scratch their fiftyish beards,
play cards for dreamed-of dollars
and say, "Don't try anything.
This bird's sharp." These
have passed on into the great
13-channeled collective
unconscious.

Mayberry's voices,
they struggle along
as if through the speaker
of a medium's paranormal device.
"Gin!" one says, and then. "Why, you...
Where're you hiding that extra deck?"
And then the laughtrack: a million
lost souls weakly speak their due.

One day, certainly, a digitized,
a craftily computer-displaced
Ricky Ricardo will pound out "Babalu!"
and lift the spirits of those
two-bit prisoners of Mayberry,
but for now that fated pair of actors must
return to their cards and cheap dialogue.
They and the Cuban vanish awash
in a vast surf of channels.
Forever the prisoners of Mayberry
dream and beg for another gig
with any actor on another show,
now and forever.

The surfers too have dreams
of what they forgot when their grubby
fingers once clicked the world's
13-channel crystal dial
one morning as bored children,
between cereal in the sickbed,
searching for any moment that entertains,
from the guy in the conga sleeves
to the jail house where spirits
say--or do they, or did they say?--
leaning across the crooked game,
face to face, "We're busting out":
words that would become
a kind of prophecy,
or at least a hope
that one day, one orange day
we'd pick up the drum and yell.

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