from Don't Let Me Be Lonely: “There is a button on the remote control called FAV...”

By Claudia Rankine b. 1963 Claudia Rankine
There is a button on the remote control called FAV. You can program your favorite channels. Don’t like the world you live in, choose one closer to the world you live in. I choose the independent film channel and HBO. Neither have news programs as far as I can tell. This is what is great about America—anyone can make these kinds of choices. Instead of the news, HBO has The Sopranos. This week the indie channel is playing and replaying Spaghetti Westerns. Always someone gets shot or pierced through the heart with an arrow, and just before he dies he says, I am not going to make it. Where? Not going to make it where? On some level, maybe, the phrase simply means not going to make it into the next day, hour, minute, or perhaps the next second. Occasionally, you can imagine, it means he is not going to make it to Carson City or Texas or somewhere else out west or to Mexico if he is on the run. On another level always implicit is the sense that it means he is not going to make it to his own death. Perhaps in the back of all our minds is the life expectancy for our generation. Perhaps this expectation lingers there alongside the hours of sleep one should get or the number of times one is meant to chew food—eight hours, twenty chews, and seventy-six years. We are all heading there and not to have that birthday is not to have made it.

Claudia Rankine, "There is a button on the remote control called FAV..." from Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. Copyright © 2004 by Claudia Rankine.  Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.

Source: Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2004)

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Poet Claudia Rankine b. 1963

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Growing Old, Time & Brevity, Living, Death

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

 Claudia  Rankine

Biography

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, poet Claudia Rankine earned a BA at Williams College and an MFA at Columbia University.
 
Rankine has published several collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric (2014), a finalist for the National Book Award; Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (2004); and Nothing in Nature is Private (1994), which won the Cleveland State Poetry Prize. Her work often crosses genres as it tracks . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Growing Old, Time & Brevity, Living, Death

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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