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The Late News
David Kirby


The anchorwoman is unsmiling, even somber,
for her biggest stories are about death,
and even when she has a feature
on a twelve-year-old college student
or a gorilla who understands sign language,
there is something tentative about her relief:
she knows that the Great Antagonist
will strike again, and soon.

The weatherman smiles a lot,
but he is making the best of a bad thing,
for the weather is necessary, yes,
but boring. As for the actors
in the commercials, they are jovial
yet insincere, for they do not love the lotions,
sprays, and gargles they urge us to buy,
products that are bad for us anyway and overpriced.

Only the sportscaster is happy, for sports news
is good news: money always changes hands,
and if someone has lost that day, someone else has won.
Should anyone die, thatís death, not sports,
and death is the anchorwomanís department.
Even if the Soviets should fire all their missiles at us
and vice versa, the sportscaster will still be happy:
you canít cover everything in a half hour,
for crissakes, and sports will be all that is left.
There will be no jobs to go to,
and our cars wonít work,
and there will be no electricity,
but you can make a ball out of anything,
and then all you need is a line to get it across
or a hoop to put it through.
The sportscaster knows how the world will end:
not with a whimper, not with a bang,
but with a cheer.

From I Think I am Going to Call My Wife Paraguay (Orchises).
Used with the authorís permission.

David Kirby is the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English at Florida State University.  His collection The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2007. Davud is the author of Little Richard: The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which the Times Literary Supplement of London called “a hymn of praise to the emancipatory power of nonsense.” He is a regular reviewer for The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Recent books include two collections of poetry, The Biscuit Joint and A Wilderness of Monkeys. Learn more about David at







Post New Comment:
Larry Schug:
A very astute and enjoyable poem. As John Prine once said, 'Blow up your tv!
Posted 09/30/2014 12:06 PM
David Kirby was my favorite FSU professor back when his hair was darker and I was much slimmer. His American Lit classes were the BEST and he always left us laughing as we went out to our lives. His poetry still gets to me!
Posted 09/30/2014 08:53 AM
Marvelous in every detail--and so accurate!
Posted 09/30/2014 07:58 AM
Gilbert Allen:
Funny and true. After the apocalypse, all the cockroaches will learn to play football.
Posted 09/30/2014 07:38 AM
Kirby has captured the spirit of the age. Except for maybe the cheer. Which could easily turn to a wail.
Posted 09/30/2014 06:26 AM

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