If we talk to a friend, a lover, a child,
looking them in the eyes, and there’s
no one there, that’s upsetting. Strange,
that we expect so much of eyes (balls
of jelly with muscle-molded expressions)
and brains (folds of fat). This reliance
is a nasty habit so deeply ingrained
that we prefer to buy cars draped with
smiling females and elect leaders
with weathered skin, toothy smiles and
bright, leveled eyes.
If we talk to a dog and get a sluggish response,
that’s upsetting. From a cat we expect at least
a head turning away, the flick of a pointed ear.
Some of us expect trees and grass to sway and rustle
for us. We expect our machines to work (God
knows how), expect less of our furniture, stones,
doorknobs -- at best only the most slavish obedience
to the laws of physics.
Expecting less, we are less upset when these things
we don’t consider alive fail to respond, fail to
be there, fail to recognize us. The psychopath
learns to mimic recognition, perceive the signs
of upset and speak the expected lies.
Stones are slow learners.
And the blankness of the page? Is it
the flat stare of a stone-cold killer?
Or the servile utility of a doorknob? Or are these
the same? Why do we not fear our furniture,
planets, stars, toothbrushes, so intimate,
yet alien, their agendas unknown? And these words --
life? Or blankness mimicking life? When I say “you,”
do you feel recognized? “Hello” says the recorded
message, “Hello, this is...Hello, this is...Hello, this is...”.
Note: If you follow the logic of this poem, you’ll note that it leads to the confusion that a poem or any page with text (blankness mimicking life) is much like a serial killer. IF what we call poetry is mimicry and not simply life. That
depends on how much life you and I give to it and to “you and I” (also words).