Reply To An Editor
I simply cannot concentrate
On these eBooks about which you inquire.
You know that I love books. I used to spend
Long days at home beside the parlor fire
With lovely leather volumes. Mom would send
The maid to bring a slice of pie and tea,
And put another log onto the grate.
I’ve always lived with books, so I can see
Why, looking for dissent, you thought of me.
I want to say I just can’t concentrate
On reading like I used to, years ago.
The Kindle kindles in my heart no glow,
No inky perfume rises from my Nook,
My iPad’s leather cover does not resonate
With the perfluent dreaming of the book.
Its brightly-glowing screen distracts my eye:
I wish I had another slice of pie.
Let me ignore the party in my room,
The deadline for Psych 6, the certain doom
That if I failed to get at least three As
My whole career might go right down the chute.
But – hey! – that girl who just came in, she’s kind of cute.
Even then I knew an arbitrary choice –
Should I read another chapter of the Joyce?
Should I take a break right now? – might, in due course,
Lead to warm embraces, grandchildren, and divorce.
Or is it lack of pie, so warm and good?
I used to read for hours in my room,
Poring over Heidegger and Hume,
Asimov and Tolkien. Hard reading then
Was light, and light verse very heaven.
Nor was reading then at risk, although I could
Risk parental wrath by reading after ten.
Those tactile, haptic joys the screen denies,
The paperback’s materiality,
These simply were the way things always stood,
The nature of the world, and no technology
Had ever altered books, or ever would.
Be warped by the fell Web’s distracting call,
The spammer’s snare, the phisher’s subtle lies?
I cannot seem to concentrate at all.
Each page is filled with links. Each link reminds
Me how much I miss that pie, or offers to amuse
Me and to sell me stuff I do not – cannot – use.
You know this, Bill. So what’s with all the faxes
That pester me to write your eBook piece?
The fee you offer made me think a bit,
Especially because I’ve bills for taxes
And Mom's Alzheimer clinic, and my lease.
The book world is collapsing 'round our ears;
This article can only end in tears.