I Looked Up and Saw My Bandwidth Swallowed by a Black Hole

I admit when word got out that companies were sending
employees home, to work from home, I was pretty jealous.
While most of the world seems to be testing the technology—
stretching the limits of communication,

stretching my bandwidth thinner and thinner.
That’s what it comes down to with technology, though,
levels of communication.
I mean talking with grandparents, with mom and dad,
can be spotty even in the same room, let alone with
technology thrown in the mix.

Lately I’ve seen my bandwidth stretched so thin
at times I can hardly get through an episode. Or share photos. Or video chat.
Companies are trying to adapt with us and it’s making me
ask what’s necessary: what things are still worth putting on
a platform. My health? my eating habits? quality of my food?
Or is it my technology? my entertainment, my gaming,
my sports, my gazillion monthly subscriptions to apps,

I’m thinking about how much I need
from grocery stores and wondering if I’m not putting all my
eggs in one basket, which I’ve been warned against.
We all have for some time now.

Look outside, look to nature and see all the variety,
it doesn’t take long to realize that
the variety is what is making each and every thing work
nothing is dependent on one source,

everything depending on each and every other thing
yet I am pretty dependent on this one source: the grocery store.
I’m pretty dependent on the few global corporations like Amazon,
or Google for my information, which have made it their aim for
us to depend on their one source, and now what?

Now we’re fighting for toilet paper and Mountain Dew
I need to be able to depend on myself a little more.
Though I’m not sure if I have the authority to change this.
To be a source of variety, to dig my hands in the earth
and pull up root vegetables, potatoes, and onions and bring
them to the dining table, the family table.

I’m lucky, though, to still have the chance to bring home
the bacon, I suppose. My wife, on the front-line, a grocery-store worker
is also being stretched thin with early mornings and sleepless nights.
Here is an opportunity to appreciate those that we do depend on
regardless of the social hierarchy; they aren’t teachers,
or police, or fire, or doctors,
they aren’t scientists, or academics, or public officials,
or even ironman, or spiderman,
but they are first responders. Our grocery store workers are
first responders.

While the world is testing the limits of communication
with technology, I’m testing the limits of my communication
through poetry, through living a life for my loved ones;
to work for them and spend time with them in a more direct way
while the whole thing comes crumbling down around us. 

Greetings from WashYourHandsingTon State

You certainly can feel it in the air now, 
each one of us a tesla tower pulling concern from the sky.
Some say it’s too much worry, others not enough.
At the grocery store we briefly make eye contact
and you know it’s on their minds as well—

Nobody says a thing, and when somebody does,
it’s a joke. Or it’s the kid walking down
the sidewalk talking on the hands-free saying,
fuck that man, now’s the time to buy not sell
all the old people are gonna die. . .

Schools down the street are being shut down
so they can be sanitized.
We get texts from our kids asking if it’s safe. It’s
so close now, daddy, is it okay?
Of course it’s okay sweetie, just keep your head down,
pull up your bootstraps, wash your hands
and get to work.

Inboxes have filled up with event cancellations:
PTA, principal’s office, school district,
community events. For fear of low turnout they say,
but schools will remain open, just keep your head down
pull up your bootstraps
wash your hands and get back to work. 

By now we all have these little fears
but we don’t let anyone in on it. 
We wash our hands a little longer, we
nod at the mask wearers, no longer in mocking
voice. A nearby cough
sets off a jolt.

We go about ordering our food, or
shaking hands, even though as we’re reaching
we’re thinking, is this really necessary? Still,
we shake and nod and smile. You just gotta
keep your head down, pull up
your bootstraps wash
your hands and get back to work.

We get a tickle in our throats
we wake up with pounding headaches,
we go to work,
we go to school,
we shake hands and nod and smile
we’re keeping our heads down, pulling up our bootstraps
washing our hands and getting back to work

Traffic has been so light, the drive in to work
has been great. If you work for one of
the big companies, that telecommute, you
don’t know what you’re missing!

*WashYourHandsingTon is a jingle from several years ago to remind people to cover their coughs and wash their hands during the cold and flu season.

Casting Nets of Convenience

We passed each other in the hallway, nodded and smiled. He went into his apartment and closed the door, then said: Alexa, set a timer for thirty minutes. And she said Okay . . . Convenience will be the death of you. Master.

And I thought, what if we are erasing ourselves with technology?

Casting Nets of Convenience

Scrubbing this diseased
skin flaking
into ash and sand
piling
like salt mounds taller
than the great mountains and
stretching from horizon to horizon
this is how we reach
such great heights and far distances.
How we communicate with the dead,
or loved ones across whole oceans.
scrubbing to get clean
erasing ourselves is a process.
Start it all over again.
Climb further. Thickness is
numbers, piling.
Numb to the bone. Scrub the bone
hide behind the phone.
Those people on the screen? those aren’t people,
they’re CGI and they have rights too;
sons and daughters of a corporation. Now’s
the time to explode. We are piling high
laying in beds feeding the sloth within
while casting ourselves into the net
lying in beds
so that we can be everywhere
but here
this fiction is growing
this future we’re sowing
evolving
into that which we
can’t recognize
our brains are spilling
liquefied and
pulled out from under
us like the table cloth
Stomach on the floor. Evolving
into something we can’t classify.
there’s no winning, we’ve already won.
Numb. We don’t have any friends anymore.
Numbers. Numbers, lying on the bed
a pile of numbers. We don’t have friends
we have numbers. Numb.
We are numb to the bone.

These are thoughts too

The most unusual cries are reverberating into the atmosphere,
bouncing from concrete walls to traffic sounds. Part loon, part howl; indistinct, yet through it a thought pierces the surface. . . people are. And it wasn’t exactly a thought thought in words as much as a collage of images, maybe a montage of sorts. In a nanosecond; people are. Here we exist together in this, whatever it is. This life we’ve made for ourselves. We are a part of this nature. We are to commerce as the crow is to songbird. And now I’m thinking that these cries are thoughts too. And I’m having a hard time distinguishing the inside
from the out.