an episode of “survivor”





stopped at a light, on my way to

somewhere I wish I already was,

the curve of the windshield seems today flat,

like a muted television in a department store

tuned to some episode of

reality TV, while I am

shopping for something else-


nearby a woman sits cross-legged on

naked concrete median, packing

spare clothes in freezer bags-

she mumbles to herself,

taking inventory of her

ragged rugged pack, which

contains all that she owns-


in two dimensions

she laughs to herself at some joke that

none of us can hear-




at dinner my friend explains his

brother’s experience as a

cast member of this or that

reality program.

“Everything he said,”

he tells me, “was entirely

scripted. He is actually

nothing like that.”

We laugh and take small bites of

twenty dollar entrees.




the light turns green and

we all drive on. The flatscreen shows now

pristine white shopping centers, as if I

changed the channel to

programming I could understand and

think about later while falling asleep

in a warm bed-


4 thoughts on “an episode of “survivor”

  1. It’s a little strange to me to think how on the same wavelength we can be, perhaps even on the same days, though we are not in the same town or talking every day.

    It struck me very forcefully just the other day how much owning a car shelters you from the realities of life around you. It literally seals you off from encountering those around you, especially the poor and lower classes.

    So much could be said on this topic.

    If you own a car, especially if, like me, you travel in it constantly because you live in a suburb but work in the city, then you spend a lot of your time in a self-created, self focussed environment.

    The beggars you see on the street corners are like the exception which proves the rule: because you have a choice whether to look in their direction, and you have a physical barrier between you, and you will move on in a few seconds, you feel as if you see the poor and interact with them at the same time as you are able to ignore them so much more easily.

    What to DO about it though?

    I was thinking these thoughts, and then I watched the movie version of Wise Blood last night, which resonates with this theme as well. Isn’t it funny how that quote from Wise Blood appears so apt here as well:

    “No man with a good car needs to be justified!”

    And then I finally come back to read your poem which echoes this as well.



    • As i am fond of saying, i do love such confluences when they occur. i labored somewhat intensely over this poem, and i am still worried that it verges a bit on the didactic, if not the overtly sentimental. However, i tried my best to capture the sensation of the surreal that i experienced the other day. As for “what to DO about it,” that’s a tremendous and difficult question which potentially has dozens of appropriate answers, but i guess the answer in general would be “not nothing.”


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