American Television is the Ultimate Dispenser of Morals
MTV used to play music videos,
songs that shaped me,
singers I imitated
holding a fake microphone
and a fake guitar
dreaming about being on tour
not knowing yet that I couldn’t carry a tune.
But that was the Eighties
when the girls on my screen
were older than me
with hard cold stares
that made me shiver
and want to be just like them.
Now there is reality television.
Now, there is 16 and Pregnant
and on it the girl
weeps in the hospital bed as the contractions come
and the nurse tells her it’s not time to push
tears sprouting out of her eyes
as she begs for drugs,
yes, mostly for God.
And then later they show the boyfriend
his arms all loose and gangly
standing over her
holding that little white pearl of a baby
and he weeps
and thanks God,
Before it’s over
the narrator come on and tells me that Brandi
is naming her child Maci
and the post script tells me that Maci
is now the number one name
for a baby in the US.
And I think of all those girls out there,
standing before their televisions,
and I don’t know what they’re holding
but it isn’t a fake microphone anymore.
(this poem was taken from Ally Malinenko's collection How to be an American
published by Six Gallery Press)