Even a cat knows when the screen is on Zoom, you sit and wait. Or stick your head in the picture so all can acknowledge your presence. Either works, and you know patience is not a virtue, but at times a necessity. You are a cat, after all. Patience is for dogs, poor beasts, having to be walked regularly. There is no freedom being a dog, and when they call you bad, that day is shot for you and you slink off. But cats must sometimes be patient when they are on Zoom, but it gives you time to plot your revenge, which the humans will never expect, but always soon enough forgive.
At least some Chinese manufacturers
have seemingly grown tired of our
endless mockery of their instructions.
No longer do they tell me “please to be
inserting the extended aspect
of part A into part B in the slotted area.”
Now they give me wordless instructions,
a series of pictures with lettered parts
which seems easier until, after
unpacking the many pieces, laying them
out on th workspace I discover
that either I am short one or more screws
or worse still, but more likely, when I begin
I will discover that several of the part
labels are lying in the bottom of the empty box.
He should have known
that the day was doomed
from the moment he woke
to see his alarm clock in pieces
on the floor by his bed, the cat
grinning at him from the place
where the clock had always sat.
Finally arriving at the office,
he was no sooner at his desk
when the fire alarm bell rang.
Within moments of reentering
after the all clear, it rang again,
and his own, very private
Chinese fire drill was under way.
The day calmed until, after lunch,
the Regional Manager arrived,
gathered everyone at the great
round conference table, and
demanded to know who
had made a simple error,
and watched as the inevitable
circular firing squad began.
There is an art
to creating a mix tape,
more so to day, when
tape is usually only
found in museums
and antique stores.
Then you chose carefully
aware of the sonics,
aware of the limits on time,
weaving a musical tapestry.
You can do a mix CD
but everyone knows
that with tape you listened
all the way through,
for fast forward was only
for getting to the end
of the cassette to play
the B-side, and CD’s
have no B sides to play.
For those who cannot see the picture above, please imagine this text is the most hated font of all time*:
There are certain sins
a poet learns never to commit,
whether by teaching or
simply bad experience.
Poetic sins come in many
shapes and sizes, grammatical,
or just about any -al you choose.
Bad rhyme is a minefield, unable
to know slant from abject miss,
forced form a train wreck with you
at the controls, blinded by ambition.
But the cardinal sin, the one
for which there can never be
any excuse, mortal to a poem, is
to think you can use this font.
*comic sans, of course.
I can’t recall how many times
I’ve recited the four vows, how
I strive to follow the eightfold path,
and yet I do wander off
but never, I would add, intentionally.
Just yesterday after morning sitting
and the Gratitude ceremony,
we gathered on in our
ever more important Zoom world
trying to tighten the threads of Sangha.
It was light, joyous, and I
without thought added this:
What is the sound of one hand
clapping? Trump’s inauguration,
to great laughter from all.
I thought about right speech,
about the Four Vows, but took
some solace in that they apply
only to sentient beings, and there
has been no evidence in him.
We live in a zoom world, one we never imagined, and one for which we will never be prepared. But it is our life now, friends and family reduced to pixels, voices disembodied. They tell us this is the new normal, although what is normal about it is beyond logic and comprehension. We believe deeply that we are interconnected, curse when that connection is dropped by our technology. We cannot survive without our electrons and pixels, for that is where people exist. Every man is an island now, isolation is a perpetual state. And, hey, we should get together soon. I’ll send a meeting number and password.
In Yuma, Arizona today, I have no idea what might have happened. Once, without going to a library and rummaging through microfiche in the dust laden corner of the second basement, I would never be able to find out. And if I did, I would wonder why there was not some simpler way of finding out. Now I can search the internet and know what did happen and what some think happened. I can find truth and conspiracies involving Yuma. It will take some time, but it can be done with relative ease. The problem is that I couldn’t care less what happened in Yuma today or most any day.
He says he is waiting patiently
for the arrival of heaven on earth.
He is not sure what that will be like
and the descriptions he has seen
are too fantastical to be believed,
all clouds and angels and music
He is hoping the things he loves
most will be available in heaven,
a good Alfredo sauce and German
chocolate cake, for two, but
heaven should be Starbucks-free,
since he will be able to drink
espresso at any hour, for you have
no need of sleep in heaven.
Until that moment comes, he will
sit for hours in the neighborhood
Starbucks because of its free wifi
and search for the best top ten
lists of ways to avoid hell and where
you can get wifi and
a good decaf espresso.
Many say that the end of the world
is upon us, that we will all
be replaced by electronics,
but of that I have no fear,
for electronics may claim
to be smarter than we are,
but if you’ve ever tried
to interconnect or network them,
you know that half of the time
they will fail miserably
and even in those rare cases
where they work initially
they will soon enough fail.
So I think I will live on,
keep pad and pen at hand,
and just for safety sake,
a box of candles and matches.