With time and energy to burn, Joe took
to prowling junk stores, buying up spare parts—
chassis, turntables, tubes. Using his smarts,
and following instructions in a book,
he launched KJOE. Tchaikovsky's First
Concerto flowed from his studio late
one day, but before he could celebrate
the sweet taste of success, his bubble burst.
The switchboard lit up, blinking like a string
of Christmas lights, at KEX, where Game
Five of the World Series hung on one strike.
Fans screamed their wrath. The station vowed to wring
somebody's neck, not knowing who to blame.
Meanwhile, Joe waxed effusive through the mike,
announcing Brahms, complete with program notes,
the way a baseball commentator fills
the dead space with a player's batting skills—
in Joe's case, how the Fourth Symphony "floats
like a dark cloud over a frozen land,"
the words imprinted on the cardboard box.
Between the records and his little talks,
he kept the air waves filled; the narrow band
where baseball history was being made
was his, all his. The folks were at the store,
and I was outside, lounging on the fence,
when up the road I spied a motorcade,
two black sedans and a truck from a war
movie, with slits for windows, an immense
antenna spinning slowly overhead,
and a speaker with four horns. Fuzzy fears
crept up my spine and buzzed about my ears.
I saw the end, my body lying dead,
crisp as a strip of bacon in the beams
of Martian ray guns. Suddenly the truck
slowed to a crawl, its grid antenna stuck
in a narrowing arc. In all my dreams
I never thought my house would host a crime,
but sure enough, the truck pulled up in front
and stopped, its fixed antenna pointed straight
at me. Two men in snap-brimmed hats, meantime,
stepped from a car. The one who spoke was blunt:
"We're F.B.I. We're coming through the gate."
I ran inside and hollered up the stairs,
"They're here to take away your radio!"
Imagine their dismay when out strolled Joe,
a grin across his freckled face. Two pairs
of snap-brimmed hats popped from the second car,
six men, all told, in double-breasted suits
with shoulder-holstered gats. "You in cahoots
with anyone?" the spokesman asked. "Bizarre,"
said Joe. "It must have been the Viennese
waltzes." The folks got home before the feds
had time to rush the porch and break the door
down. With Joe's clandestine transmitter seized,
they piled back in their cars, shaking their heads
and muttering about the final score.