Heathkit tv 1980

what my father made and gave me, nouns:

transistor, fastening, capacitor. he was a sort


of sorcerer, wizard at building, his mind

a sleek machine of memory, rebuilt


from youthful chaos and some suffering

we didn’t discuss, just fixed into a different


tense. the five of us, assembled, 1980,

rendered late, again: my mother, brothers,


stars are moving on a screen my father took from

separate components, fused, they dance, laugh, entertain,


reflect us, lit up swing sets, sunsets, tv sets, antenna,

current, plug, each piece makes another work. hot spark


of a soldering gun connects by melting; he is always

working, making what we need to see. we move


from planet to electric planet, apple 2e joy, invaders

tick atari basement aliens we shriek at, shoot


up, 2d childhood, sweet summary of super glue

and batteries: he has a fix for anything we break. i’m


sick this year, my voice back young again, some fear:


   dad? can you help me for a second here?


we’re all grown up but i am not immune

to what’s most fragile in me or the story at his stories’ cores:


that we will be okay, that he’ll make sure—

but this fix needs a tricky switch flipped back to who we were {a cure?}



“healthkit tv 1980” is excerpted from absolute animal (University of Chicago Press, 2023). © 2023 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.


First published by The Baffler