Poetic Injustice

The 2004 Dell Dimension 4800, aka "Grandpa"

After more than two years in this apartment, we have almost found a proper place for every random item from our past lives. And by “proper place” I really mean “donation box at Housing Works.” The lone holdout was the desktop computer that came into my possession in August of 2004, when I first moved to Michigan. I probably don’t need to tell all you tech-savvy peeps in the blogosphere that seven human years and seven computer years are not the same.  This bad boy (shout out to Lew, who, of course, paid for two-thirds of it) is now elderly, about to receive its last rites, and slower than a Sunday night check-out lane at the uber-depressing Jackson Road Meijer in Ann Arbor. Lemme tell ya. That is SLOW.

I had no emotional attachment to the computer itself, but I had to retrieve its files before I could donate it and get on with my laptoppy life.  In the meantime, it sat like an eyesore on a snack table in our dining room area.  I like to think of that area as a computer hospice. But these files included some of my finest freelance work, such as the press kits for “Slavery” and “Do You Speak American?,” for which I interviewed Robert MacNeil at great length, and a series of Thirteen/WNET radio scripts that ran on WQXR. The files also included all documents relating to my ill-fated first wedding (DELETE) and a folder of my 20-something poetry.

What’s that you say? POETRY? REALLY?!

It’s true. In my unhappier days, I was a closet poet. A published poet, in fact! And upon opening the folder, I realized I’d forgotten how prolific I’d been. Unfortunately, I had cunningly password-protected these masterpieces with a some obscure French word I couldn’t remember. Fortunately, I had suspected this might happen and put a small red dot next to the word in my vintage French dictionary. With the files unlocked, I couldn’t help but read through them. And I have to say that while I am horrified by their melodrama and shallow, not-so-hidden meanings, I am also strangely proud. I don’t know if I’m proud of the poems themselves, the fact that I’ve evolved since I wrote them, or just my ability to actually get them onto a thumb drive. In any case, I hereby share one of these “lost poems.”

K-Turns (September 1999)
It was everywhere, but in case I missed it
Lurking behind the endearing little stories and punchlines
Waiting to pounce under late night phone calls from bars and beds
Hiding amid the sweeter minutes and triple-word scores
Rising up in the steam off the street
Crammed into subways and on TV, in lines others spoke about anything else
In ink as it flowed, in tears as they fell,
It would smack me across the face, every so often
The mismatched truth no just-right sentence
Or act of kindness
Amount of patience
Or self-inflicted lashing
Could begin to alter
No matter how it seemed or felt
All that was there for all this time
Had happened already or couldn’t yet
Better then to come close but stop,
Letting go that slim chance of actual joy
Without risking the aching disappointment on its other side,
And that way ensuring the survival of hope.
Because it wasn’t just giving up now and you,
It was tomorrow too and all its details,/
A set too strong to kill in self-defense,
Full of all the safe and simple things in the world,
Like the soft gray carpet in an apartment that doesn’t exist
Or the buzz of conversations between sisters who will never meet brothers
At holidays that will never come
Or the perfect sleep only resolution can bring.
So I revoke the one thing I can
And realize too late
There are a hundred kinds of exploitation
But still the delusions of maybe
Are too much to lose …

Poetic Injustice