Don’t curse the spinning wheel. Don’t put your fist
through the screen again. Rather, dive inside
the whirlpool. Enter the center. Coexist
with those charming pixels. Now close your eyes
and listen: Can you hear the humming,
the thrumming heat of your own throbbing heart?
Not the rushing beat of a tyro drummer
called to the bandstand at Birdland to start
the set because Philly Joe Jones is jammed
in traffic, but steady … steady … steady …
the ballad turning back to a mellow vamp,
piano, bass, and brushes eddying
the down-low while the download delights
like a time-lapse blossom blue in the night.
They fix their faces on pixilated glass
checking hair and makeup, composing cryptic texts,
thumbing games, consuming music and movies
in strange, solitary silence. It’s like
a river’s streaming past and they’re on the bank,
glancing up every so often, rods poised.
Then they’re lured into the river, no longer
fishers but fish immersed in a mystical world.
Thirty years ago they were always bored.
Now when I say put your phones away,
they gently set them on desk corners, rows
of trophy catches that still pulse. Still murmur.
Does it really matter who said what,
when? You can’t prove anything today.
In journalism school they told us to put
the five Ws in the lede with attribution:
a tribute to the source. So passe,
quotation marks. Now they’re just
flying commas migrating to some retirement
community for punctuation outside Orlando.
Hemingway must have known,
standing at his podium, GPS-less.
If the same character speaks twice in a row,
who cares? The words belong to everyone.
Unless Hemingway simply goofed, lost
in the she said/he said. Fake news even then,
mumbles one closed quote to another,
waiting in line for the early bird special.