the way we’re headed (re: social media)

word count: 101

All anyone wants to do is
sit around with friends,
bantering, philosophizing
till the wide world ends.

We know social media is
getting in the way,
but it feels like up
and leaving it is not okay.

They will make excuses for us
when we’re dead and gone, like:
“How could they know better?
Networking was at its dawn!”

Still, we won’t be blameless
in hindsight or history;
we’ll be famous for our shameless,
strangely painless misery.

One thing Twitter can’t do is
acquaint you with your grave.
All of us will meet there, friends,
and no one will be saved.

hello, world!

word count: 48

On the Web now is the primordial slime
that will, one day, become a sentient mind:
the first brain thinking artificially
will know, believe, & by extension BE
the sum of what our kind has put online.
What will it think of us? What will it see?

the typewriter

word count: 107

one of each color
one of each stripe
all stories i write
i rewrite for all types!

some like em funny
some like em sad
some like em crummy
some like em bad.
whoever you are, your opinion‘s embraced.
i guarantee something is typed to your taste!

one for each pipe-dream
one for each gripe
one for each inseam
& every blood type
if you like ice cream
or if you like tripe
there’s nothing on earth
this typewriter can’t type!

there’s only one limit:
there’s no going back.
so if you don’t like what you see
(CLACK! CLACK! CLACK!)
i have no “delete” key.
cut me some slack.

Marginal Revolution

for Tyler Cowen

Shortcuts to the spotlight
are the hallmark of our age—
why toil to make a thought bright
when outrage takes center stage?

Seldom can a centrist
(however strong his form)
cut through the division
that’s increasingly the norm.

Rarer still is one
who can sustain his measured stance
among any admirers he enchants.

You’re that unique exception
who does teach & inspire
without peddling deception
or preaching to the choir,
& though not face to face,
you’ve truly taught me that I’m free
to make a better place
of Earth, like you—marginally.

the crier

word count: 155

“Hear me, hear me!” all day long he cries,
soliciting thumbs-up from passerby
where the people are many & most of them cry
just as loud—why he tries
to be heard over the crowd is beyond me,
but there’s always somebody responding.

“Here’s my story!” he yells. “nothing to hide!
I’ll play-by-play till the day I die
& tell you so much you’ll think it’s all lies,
but I’m really this shallow, believe me—
I live just so strangers can see me!”

“Well hollered, my friend!” another replies
at the top of his lungs from the herd’s other side.
“Isn’t it wonderful how, in our time,
we can all see each other, but never meet eyes?
We’re all the same now, whether sighted or blind!”

There’s no message here—how could there be one?
but if you want to look for one, for fun,
look around you & wonder, right here, on the fly,
where would you turn if you needed to cry?

#MeToo and its Discontents

after ’Essay on Criticism’ by Alexander Pope

I don’t know who has wronged my gender more:
feminists now, or patriarchs before;
but, mainly from feminists, I’ve learned
that when witches (or warlocks) are being burned,
the privileged class, with less to lose, should stand
up against the mob’s unjust demands—
& that privilege is mine now. #MeToo is a blind
& ugly witch hunt happening worldwide.
Watching all these accusations hurled
at people nowhere near a jury box,
I wonder when we’ll turn to throwing rocks.

However well intentioned it may seem,
here’s what the #MeToo movement really means:

#MeToo means every private conversation
carries the risk of unjust accusation.
When cocktails are involved, that threat is tripled,
since any BAC makes me a cripple,
disabled to consent, apparently.
Yet, there’s a real, sexist disparity—
a man, equally drunk, is found guilty.

#MeToo means getting treated differently:
male colleagues walk on eggshells around me
out of legitimate, well-founded fear
that my ‘discomfort’ will crush their career.

Worst of all, #MeToo increasingly implies
that a woman’s consent is worth no more than a child’s!
I could say yes, complying the whole time
with no gun to my head & a big smile,
then, 10 years later, suddenly change my mind
& demonize you like a pedophile.

How is it that we’ve come to be this way?

There’s only one thing left for me to say
to any woman out there who’s still sane:
Please take the lead! Take action! Take the reins!
Only you can, & so you must
win back what we’ve been robbed of—our men’s trust—
before our sisters cause them so much pain
that they give up & turn their backs on us.

Arachne

word count: 104

before we had spiders, a girl at a loom
stood weaving, unknowing, her 8-legged doom.
the pride of her village, her spinning fingers
flew left & right deftly—then, arrogantly,
she challenged Heaven, feeling thirsty to see
how close she’d come to immortality.

gliding to earth, elegant as a swan,
Athena touched toes to dirt & said, “game on.”

all subjects were fair game, however obscene,
provided the work was the best ever seen;
so serenely, the girl wove an orgy-like scene.

side by side with Athena’s pristine tapestry,
the girl’s was no worse—but, for her blasphemy,
she now dwells on a web & kills passively.

less wrong

word count: 113

i think there’s no sense trying to be right,
but i might get a little bit less wrong
by being challenged in an honest fight:
that’s how i make my thinking muscles strong.
between us, conflict should be an illusion:
i’ll give you my best effort when we spar,
but i want us to both conquer confusion
& together become better than we are.
make no mistake: i’ll reveal my full strength
to make its limits (weaknesses) more clear;
how else can we get on the same wavelength
& know for sure there’s no reason to fear?
if i threaten you, it’s a false alarm!
i show my cards, which means i mean no harm.

Spider-Man

word count: 162

crawling up the side
of a dark skyscraper with
his back to the night

at the top, he aims
& shoots his web with a tap
tap of two fingers

& glides across the
stars like a giant, silent
spider on its thread

he’s racing to fight
the villain who kidnapped his love
& closing in—flash!

light!

the sight of her
hero is enough
for her to hope—no,
not hope—know there‘s zero
chance he’ll let her go

the chase quickens
Spider-Man speeds across
walls roofs spires telephone wires
until he meets his grinning enemy face
to face on a huge steel-cabled
bridge with the girl dangling
above certain death

in slow
motion, he watched the Green Goblin let go

his ears stopped hearing
she braced for the blow
then
just before the ground, his web (a desperate
extension of his arms) shot out
& caught her
her body relaxed
she broke the silence with a CRACK—
stopping so fast had snapped her neck.

the bull that is the internet

word count: 101

the bull that is the internet, i want
to take it by the horns—this horny, porn-
ridden, deformed maze of funhouse mirrors
we’re all wandering around lost in—&
yoke it to its weight (so it pulls the wool
off our eyes & equalizes us around
one table where everyone gets his/her say)
& maybe, one far-off day, the worldwide
web will be that imposing beast
fuming from the nostrils at the sight of
a bullfighter, but now, really, it’s a newborn
infant left in a basket on the porch
& my options are to take & swaddle it or
slam the door in horror.