Desensitized

By Martin Falatic
Written 1994-10-01
Revised 1997-03-19

I saw the blood spilled on TV:
          Foreign, alien, not human blood,
          As the pipe slammed down on the bare body.
Red, blue, and green, the tiny pixels flashed and faded,
          Burning an image into the screen,
          Forming a picture of carnage distant and unreal.
                    Red, for the blood in the gutters
                    Blue, for the tint on the cold, lifeless lips of the fallen
                    Green, for the putrid hue of sickness,
                              a cancer in the heart of Man.
The colors danced across my screen.

I watched the bombs fall, ribbons of light against an ebony sky,
          From the comfort of my sofa.
I watched the people run as the shrapnel tore a bloody swath through the crowd,
          And felt a pang inside.
The small box told its tale, like an electronic bard.
          I listened, unable to feel the reality.
I watched as the bombs rained down,
          Sharing not the fear, but merely the view,
As the colors danced across my screen.

I watched as the mob chased the man down,
          Hunting him into a corner.
I watched as he raised his arms, protecting his face,
          And I felt for him, in a distant sort of way.
I watched the gunman as he raised the pistol and shot:
          Once - the man crumpled
          Twice...
          Three times, and yet he still held his arms across his face.
The camera was honest, but nearsighted,
          No blood could be seen, no gore,
          No mercy.
The reality still did not hit home,
          As the colors danced across my screen.

I watched the news when hate reared its ugly head in my town.
          "The Klan is coming," the TV said.
I was sickened for a moment, but the feeling passed,
          replaced by a sense that it was all somehow unreal.
"I'll see for myself," I decided,
          As others turned their backs.
I took a drive, got a brief glimpse of the gathering so near my home,
          yet still so far away.
I saw the robes, the salutes, the crowd, the barricades.
          And saw hate, personified.
          And felt the anger, the dread, the loathing!
          The reality.
It was a brief moment, but one that will remain with me forever.

Perhaps we are immune to the world, insulated by a glass pane,
          Painted in red, blue, and green.
Perhaps we lost our way,
          When the colors danced across the screen.

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