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America, Online

by Ken Harnisch

Compuserve begat My Space
And America Online begat Facebook
The dinosaurs died and Darwin was proven right:
It’s all evolution, so hurry! Put your name up in the Cloud!

So now I can find old friends
And know my tattered visage in the bathroom mirror
Has familiar prune-faced compatriots on the all too rapid march to decrepitude

And now I can make friends out of family
And family out of those I wasn’t too
Keen on finding when they were barely more than friends.

At FB nothing is hidden
And I know his nickname and his frequency of
Colonoscopies and how many times
He has cursed Obama’s name by
Posting another witty he first found on
The Fox News website.

And I know her angst
And see her hands twisted in a rictus of mortal
Worry which she disposes of by
Dropping samplers of mother’s wit
On the numbed eyes and minds of us all.

And I know her through him who knows
Them through they and I am asked
To be their friend, too, and relate,
With raucous awkwardness, how brushing up
Against Peter in the subway gave me
The right to knock so cheerfully on Paul’s front door

And come-a callin’ offering nothing more than
My age and face and wellsprings of genius
I call a post and then sit back and count
The “likes” as the world is reduced
To the glibness of a tweeting twit

Can’t write a letter, I notice
Or a poem
And they give you the sneaky
Sense at Zuckerberg.com
(WARNING: seasonal pun coming!)
That they see you when you’re sleeping
And know when you’re awake
And unless you tell it all online
You’ve made a big mistake.

Can’t make a paragraph;
There’s no line breaks
You can manufacture without a crowbar;
The cursor trembles like
San Andreas when you
Pause to have a thought;
A sentence of more than five words
Is treated like a time-out at the day care center.

So my good friends
(Read that: my pre-Facebook
Acquaintances) and I have engaged
In a silent revolution.
We’ve planted IEDS along the roadside by
Going back to AOL, where letters aren’t
Treated like something a techie learned on Sesame Street
And good grammar isn’t some old woman
Who used to feed you cookies on Christmas Eve.

And I’ve got to admit, for a dinosaur,
AOL is a pretty lively saurus;
There I can write a poem
And say I love you
And go on for miles
About a broken heart
And not have someone
The next morning
Post that John Smith liked this
But Mary Jones, not so much.

12/05/2014

Posted on 12/05/2014
Copyright © 2019 Ken Harnisch

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 12/05/14 at 10:32 PM

There's a lot to chew on here, but Ken Harnisch literary culinary ecstasy at its best. Like a great movie, I'll definitely be back to catch what I missed the first time.

Posted by Clara Mae Gregory on 12/06/14 at 01:18 AM

*stellar*

Posted by Alison McKenzie on 12/06/14 at 05:49 AM

I'm with Chris - so much to chew on. Affiliations made and burned in less than a fortnight, tone of voice and facial expressions an old-fashioned method of figuring out where you fit, and where they fit. You summed it up so perfectly here, Ken.

Posted by George Hoerner on 12/06/14 at 08:49 PM

This is a great write Ken. So many people put so much on farce book it is hard to tell what is true and what is not. I check mine periodically, about every two weeks, so I have very few friends and fewer relatives.

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 12/10/14 at 04:14 PM

"And I know her through him who knows Them through they and I am asked To be their friend, too, and relate, With raucous awkwardness, how brushing up Against Peter in the subway gave me The right to knock so cheerfully on Paul’s front door" Love this! You've captured the weird world of FB, Ken, and online relationships. When I think about the new generation and how this may the only way they relate to people, it just makes me shake my head. Only your good humored take on us silly humans helps.

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