I will soon enough be
in mourning for literature
and philosophy for the moment
is approaching when they
will be lost, or I suppose
simply subsumed, swallowed
up in a cloud appearing
momentarily then gone.
The day is rapidly approaching
and if you doubt it
for even a moment, go
to your local library, if
it has not closed, and note
the diminishing number
of books, replaced
by computers, where
everything can be found
while the power is on,
but just try and read there
when a candle is the only light.
Many now say the age of great literature
has died, the mortal woiund inflicted
by the advent of the self-correcting
IBM Selecric typewriter, when words
bcame evanescent, as suddenly gone
as when they spilled onto the page.
Others, I count myself among them,
believe the wound was not fatal,
deep certainly, but yet there remains
a faint pulse, ressuscitation possible
with the application of utmost care.
For there forbears florid phrasing
in the forethoughtful flow of the fountain
pen, precious and pure prose and poetry
in the precise point of the Pilot pen.
Perhaps, if you happen upon this
small scrap of scrip, you will
see the possibility in this proposition.
He said the assignment is
an easy one for this class,
write a piece, poem or story,
your choice, but focused
on a single metaphor. Oh,
and to make it interesting,
that metaphor should be
the last pet you owned or
currently own, and if you’ve
never been blessed with a pet,
use an ocelot or a lynx.
How hard could it be, I thought,
I have a cat, she will be
my metaphor, and so I sat,
picked up pen and paper
and absolutely nothing came.
The cat watched me, heard me
mutter under, I thought,
my breath, then gently mewed:
“Cats cannot be metaphors,
you should know that, for we
are unique in nature, unless
of course you wish to write
about God, for we know that we
were created in his image.
Too much of what passes
for literature in these days is really
no more lasting than the evanescent
pixels from which it is created.
Books fade, pages crumble to dust
but that requires the passage of time
that our electronic world avoids
or simply refuses to acknowledge,
for history is something that lives
in storage, perhaps recalled, if still
viable, be very easily forgotten,
and compressed to save space.
Still I have my library of books,
and not once in recent memory
have I had to halt my reading
to recharge the printed pages.
The history of modern literature,
at least to those who purport to create
it, is inextricably tied up with technology.
The quill and inkwell ceded only
reluctantly to the fountain pen and ballpoint.
Foolscap was affixed to corkboard
by countless pushpins, but one wasn’t
a teal writer until one stuck in the sole
of your foot as you wandered in the dark
in search of a pen in the night while
trying vainly to cling to a thought that only
moments before had dragged you from sleep.
We have progressed far, the pen falling away
beneath the great weight of the keyboard,
paper now a wrapping for electronics
which now serve as both paper and book.
many are no longer writers at all, dictating
words which appear on the screen, the machine
at once editor and publisher and bookstore.
And we know the day is approaching when
voice and hand will cease to be tools, when
mere thought will be the poet’s task, and reading
will be a lost skill, something the ancients did
when they still had poetry and literature.
First appeared in Erothanatos, Vol. 3, No. 3, July 2019 at Pg. 41