The Universe Exploding

At the mall in Parkersburg my son and I wander among the displays at the Home Show while my wife shops.

A sign in front of the furnace display,

"most efficient in the world" and I have to stop. Soon a small crowd gathers and the salesman starts his pitch —

"this is the one ya want to buy, no doubt about it"

he says looking straight at me, taught I suppose to pick out one vulnerable looking soul to make it seem more real, and I'm caught in the spiel. "How's it work you ask"

he says before the words leave my mouth. "Well,"

he starts looking deadly serious, "the gas sort of forms little balls and then explodes, hundreds of times a minute, like . . ." he's looking for words, "sort of like" he says "the way scientists say the universe started." "Yea" he says, looking skyward, hesitating a moment in his sudden discovery. "Just think of it" he says, looking back at me, "everytime you kick that baby on you're making a new universe, exploding stars, making black holes, charting new planets," and he laughs a little back in his throat, like he thinks he knows something you don't. "Maybe," he says, "you wander down there one cold morning to watch it happen, and you never come up."

Although Kinsley gives more lines to the salesman than to the narrator, the narrator's presence in the poem is crucial —he's the target of the spiel —and his son's presence also is important —it depicts the narrator's personality — a man who cares for his boy so his wife can shop at the mall. Maybe an easy target. Moreover, his voice is factual ("At the mall in Parkersburg"), descriptive ("Soon a small crowd/ gathers") and intelligent ("taught I suppose/to pick out one vulnerable looking/soul").

Those traits also blend with the narrator's personality and are aligned with topic and theme. The factual voice contrasts with the salesman's glib speech, the descriptive voice sets the scene and the intelligent one adds a sense of irony: Alas, the salesman has not picked out a vulnerable person, but one who understands the meaning of the salesman's final words.

Here's one of my poems to illustrate a storytelling voice in the third person:

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