Poetry vs. Tech

I’m surrounded
by technology—
the wonders
of disinterring all four Beatles
so they can play a concert
in my living room
or conjuring Fred and Ginger
out of the ether
to dance across the carpet.

A single tear can’t flood the world
but a universal remote is another story.
I can press my way
around the globe.
into the past
or the very edge of now—
one minute, I’m on Jupiter,
the next in Bedrock,
meanwhile coffee’s dripping itself
into being
and an almost silent hum
keeps the beer cold.
I have it in me
to disparage all this of course.
Give me pen and paper
and I’m a Luddite
in iambic pentameter.
But try taking away my expediency
and there’ll be hell to pay.
Did I really just say that.
Now where’s the backspace
on this keyboard?

The Equation on the Blackboard

To the professor, it is perfect,
an undeniable proof
as sublime as a Shakespearean sonnet
is to me.

No truth is less contestable.
No number can flaunt the rules
he spent all morning sketching
on that blackboard.

I’ve always had a quibble
with the likes of “to wet a widow’s eye”
and “do I my judgement pluck.”
In art, not even the sacrosanct
is averse to a little tweaking.

Besides, the fifth sonnet
could just as easily be the 23rd,
and the 23rd, the fifth.
And if the fifteenth weren’t there,
the rest wouldn’t crumple
in on themselves.

But, to the professor,
every querulous Q,
every dotted i, every symbol, every sign,
is inviolate.
There’s nothing to add.
And the only thing superfluous
is the professor.

Last Ride

Body stretched
beneath a bright yellow truck,
your red ponytail
the color of a house finch
fluttering where
your helmet should have been—

what’s left of you
lifted into an ambulance.
another trip,
not just to the pavement
but below—

you disappear from view,
watched by doom and his posse,
glass and metal and blood on hot tar,
all that remains
of your wild thinking.


This is the city where you will be living for the next thirty years.
Meditative immigrant, take a good look around.
Fold your arms if you must, admire the brown brickwork of the courts,
the neo-classical statehouse on Smith Hill.
Regular breaths are fine. The history will come to you in time.
Confusion at local customs is acceptable.
Just don’t immediately dismiss them with a skeptical frown.
The distance you’ve come is dwarfed by all the labor
that went into making this place exactly as you see it.
Much is remnants from a bygone industrial age.
But there’s charms to be had. May you find them.
A brown river winds in and out of the concrete.
Pigeons seek comfort in the parks, on statues.
And yes there are steep streets, cafes, and panhandlers.
And people like you from many other continents.
Visit different neighborhoods. It’s not what you
were taught in school. Indeed, if you were ever taught anything.
Maybe you’ll get a good job. Or an even better wife.
Initially inspired by abstractions, you’ll settle on the reality.
You are still the one your mother gave birth to.
But in another country, that’s all.

How She Described Our Relationship

I’m doing life
as a languid floating flower.

You’re the frog in this arrangement.

Though I welcome the presence
of another living thing,
I can do without the disturbance
when you leap upon me.

We don’t blur together
despite what you might think.
We are separate entities.

One is happy enough
just showing off its petals.

The other may try to convince
that it’s a gentleman among amphibians

but, more than once,
I’ve seen you zapping flies
with a fearsome tongue.

I love the rain on me,
especially the lighter stuff,
and I don’t mind my roots
wiggling below the surface.

But you’re so busy and heavy
and besides, you really
have your heart set on
someone as green and slimy
as yourself.

In the meantime,
let’s be half-hostile,
and leave it at that.

For I know I am beautiful
and I don’t need you tell me.
And you’re as ugly as a frog.
I encourage you to believe it.