In childhood dreams I once got double-crossed.
Familiar homes and sidewalks grown confusing,
I found myself afraid of getting lost.
My dream of wandering farther from the mossed
rock-garden soil where grandmother was choosing
flowers to plant — that dream got double-crossed.
Each townhouse on the block had been embossed
with the same brickwork pattern. Losing, losing,
finding myself afraid of getting lost,
of bad men in disguise who might accost
and lead me to the wrong house, disabusing
me of my faith in dreams — double-crossed
into a different life — I turned and tossed,
beat on my chest, awoke, but found no bruising,
no traces of the fear that I had lost.
Patterns of bricks, words, music, inexhaust-
ible in variation, began oozing
out of that childhood dream once double-crossed.
I found myself through fear of getting lost.
I. Subway Ride, 1956
The turnstile clinked over our brazen fare,
then opened to a world of pitch-black, hollow
and without ends. Its name was everywhere,
spelled in mosaic, voiced for us to follow:
“Van Wyck Boulevard!” where a train called F
would sweep us to the zoo or the museum.
Who cared if tunnel noise might make us deaf
and leather straps held germs? We couldn’t see them.
The nickel chocolate bars, gum for a penny
dropped through their own turnstiles and rode along.
We gobbled them until there weren’t any.
Still, you and I were happy with a song
in echoed harmony, rhythm and rhyme,
sweet Mother that you were in perfect time.
II. Clinic, 1957
Perfect time’s up. A brittle stick of chalk,
you’re quivering, sobbing, packing for somewhere.
“Just for a while,” says Daddy. “You can talk
by telephone, and visit. She needs care.”
You show me pansies in the clinic garden.
“They all have little velvet faces…See?”
From one trip to the next you seem to harden.
I didn’t know about the E.C.T.*
Back home at last, you have a new perfection,
a measured beauty, fretting at your age.
You welcome only half of my affection,
give me a marble angel. In a rage
I break it. You repair it. You are strong
but now no longer happy in our song.
I. December Thoughts
“Wearable technology is one of the trends at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.” – Aarti Shahani, NPR.org, Jan. 7, 2014
“…we are lemmings.” – I.J. Good, reconsidering his optimism about artificial intelligence, 1998
How eager now we are to pile
into the maw of the New Year,
with music bytes and photo file
arranged so that we most appear
content, each minor loss or gain
displayed across the clothes we wear.
A pixel shift deletes a stain.
Without a stitch we mend each tear.
Synthesized voices, data, fill
the drawers and shelves of memory.
We’re ready for their overspill
into next year’s cacophony.
Why not today, so fresh and clean,
climb also into The Machine?
[During the] “technological Singularity”…when we humans share the planet with smarter-than-human intelligence…Ray Kurzweil proposes that we’ll merge with the machines, ensuring our survival. – James Barrat, Our Final Invention
Preparing the big Upload,
they queried each electrode.
“Are you there?” they seemed to say.
But my neurons backed away
from the gropings of the digital.
(How much longer, old Original?)