by Karen Faris

Voices In the Wind

I am done writing
I have put down my pen,
turned off my computer
shut down my Wi-Fi,
and the world
and the who did what to whom
and every day hate,
the smallness of the law
the violent usage of it,
the brick-by-brick way
kids are being schooled
to tune into
the morass and miasma
of digital life, their youth
a sexual favor
for Big Data knows
best, and, what is better.

I am done writing.
I have put down my pen.
Do you hear it?
The buzz in the wind,
the sound of automation’s whirling gait
in the 4/4 stomp of boots
the key signature of regimes
paid for in blood and DNA
and capitalist currency.

Do tell says both Leadership
and the PTA flyer
if you see
something suspicious.
Oh, how I am always suspicious

of this internet of things,
this internet of intent
that bends us
to the limits
of the machine and the machine
limits us
to algorithms,
a word that causes poets to feel
hard done by, and, to question
the who, and, the whom
of the self-driving car.

I am done writing.
I have put down my pen.
I will walk outside
to the sunrise and the trees
and sit by the stream
where I will dip my toes
into its inky waters
and watch
as it all washes away.

The Bowl That Was Once A Plate and Is Now A Fork

The bowl was wooden
and well-loved
and thus well made
though some disputed that.
There is always disputation
as a way of differentiation
but most of that is academic,
and so, meaningless.

Let’s move on.

The bowl served endless variations
of hot and cold until the liquid of the years
seeped into its pores
and it could hold itself together
no longer, and so, one day, exhausted,
let down its guard
and became what it had always feared to be

A plate.

Over the years, it survived endless scraping,
the blades of the knife carving a new surface daily

but it survived.

The plate was well made
coming as it did out of the bowl
but for reasons obscure and arcane
was not as well-loved.
A flat surface meant people could examine it closely
seeking to find its imperfections,
certain, before they had even looked, they existed.
People came to the plate
with the expectation of the imperfect
and the imparfait
which they wanted to impose now
rather than expose as a tense
and not an “in” parfait, trendy by example
as all linguistic trickery may be considered.

The plate, faced with all this trickery, trembled under its load.
The tensile strength of its early identity
began to rattle and crack with disbelief
about its own nature because people wanted
a parfait rather than a plate,
and, after a while this interior unsettlement
of electrons and neutrons,
caused eons and ions to manifest in a dramatic fashion
and shattered that which the plate, and, before it, the bowl,
had spent so much time trying to keep together.

Things give up. Even objects
lose their objectivity.

The pieces lay scattered on the floor but some shards
were larger than others, pricklier than others

with several fingers of pointiness all pointed in the same direction.
Someone came along and placed the fork back in a bowl
(because the spoon had jumped over the moon
having found a way out of parables and place settings a long time ago)
but the bowl did not recognize the nature of the fork
nor did the fork recognize the familiar circularity of the bowl
and so, they remained silent when they should have spent
the time, while they waited for dinner to be served,
to discuss the ways that time, and temperature, thought
and thoughtlessness, had shaped the properties of their form
that had made them unrecognizable to each other
as the matching place setting they were,

thus concluding our short tale of the historic period
arguably known on earth as civilization.

Karen Faris is a Rochester based writer and artist. She combines poetry with fabric, words with photography, creates collages, and uses all of these things to create performance art.  Her performance piece, Aliens Like Us, premiered in the 2019 Rochester Fringe Festival. She has published in various journals, including, great weather for media, and aaduna, with whom she has published the chapbook, The Death of Compassion.