The Manhattan Review
The Manhattan Review
Established 1980

Archive > Vol. 11 no. 2


Baron Wormser

Carthage and the Television


Carthage likes to watch himself
On the television.
He does this in the privacy of a paneled suite.
Former leaders entertained call girls here.
Women who walked through the door
With only a pair of high heels on.

Carthage prefers his own face on television.
It isn’t vanity.
On the contrary, his staring stems
From an almost metaphysical doubt.
When you live in front of others
You misplace yourself.

People say,
“Did you see Carthage on the TV?”
He exists.
Behind the silicon fire and the waves
And wires and cameras is a man.
Admittedly, some days it is as hard
To believe in as the god of the Protestants.
Some days he loiters in the shadows of the news,
Dim as a sermon.

That’s why Carthage watches himself.
It doesn’t matter what he says.
Commentators explicate every pause and tic,
Then disagree.
What matters is what beams:
The lard of his smile, the pitch of his head,
How clean his shave was that day.

Laws hit the unknown over the head
From a great, cerebral distance;
Wars bait them,
But this person scintillates like springtime or chocolate —
Something faithless, pictured and blind.