(Poetry) On Selling Air

I’m not the only one
Who sees the truth
Beneath the skin
Of our stated promises and ideals.
Perhaps: my task, the skin to unpeel.

This issue from my work’s not said in jest, in fun;
And I’d rather not be mean, nor ruth-
Less in my avoidance of this apparent sin.
Still, in a haze of easy platitudes and legal seals,
I can see the effect our policy has: in what I do, in how I feel.

It’s said our goal’s to serve the public, as father to a son;
To inform, entertain, and educate all, from rich man to uncouth.
We share the airwaves with our commercial kin,
But we promote the unsolicited openness that heals
By nature of its universal appeal.

From these standards, the station
Has (in my opinion) wavered, just as a tooth
Can, with a simple slant, send
A row of teeth toppling, and reveals
The nature of a public enterprise that can, from the people’s trust, steal.

I’d rather expose our uncautious greed to the light of the sun
(And thereby purge my guilt by exploiting the enthusiasm of my relative youth)
Than live in sadness and fear of women and men
Who claim the higher moral ground with their dug-in heels
And yet break the rules set forth to protect the public’s commonweal.

As a co-worker says, “It’s video prostitution.”
How can I reconcile my ethics, or soothe
My conscience, when
This practice of “airtime for hire” and semi-secret deals
Is a poison that strikes the innocent who eat our television meal?



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