Wednesday, June 20, 2012

April 2012 Poem A Day Challenge, Day 1

To any and all who drop by my blog from time to time.  I'm catching up.  Many of you will recall April is Nationally Poetry Month.  This year, I tried to hang with the schedule of writing a poem a day.  Or I should say I started to try.  Failing the daily grind, I have nonetheless committed to going back to all those poetry prompts from all those days in April; to write the wrong of the unmet challenge.  Some of those poetic musings will appear here, starting with the prompt and poem from April 1:  "Write a communications poem".

Communication Conundrum

By Bill Kirk

"Hey, John.
Just heard my phone buzz.
What’s Up?
Wait a sec. I got no Wi-Fi
And this connection is crap!
Yeah, I got four bars
But the audio-video is totally
Out of sync and slow beyond belief!”

In times past,
Communication wasn’t always that slow.
It was even slower—on a good day—
And mostly by design.

There was a time when the
Transmission of the messages themselves
Seemed to reflect the natural rhythms
Of everyday living.

To be sure, some messages
Were more important than others.
Perhaps that’s the difference in a nutshell—
Only the most critical messages
Were sent by the fastest means possible,
Even if slow by today’s standards.

Whether by runner
Or horse
Or ship
Or train
Or tom-tom
Or telegraph
Or phone,
The means (and speed) of transmission
Often defined the sense of urgency—

That hierarchy of speed
Was fine with most people.
Based on the sense of urgency alone,
There was a time
In the not too distant past,
When no one wanted to get a
Long distance phone call,
Because it meant someone was
Either dead or dying.

Everyone knew
The greater the speed
And sense of urgency behind the message,
The less anyone wanted
To be on the receiving end of the line.

Yet in far less than a life time,
The urgency of a message
Is no longer defined
By its speed of transmission,
Nor by assumptions about who
In the known universe may have sent it.

That quiet ding
Or buzz
Or Beethoven bounce
Or Salsa sound bite
Heard while eating
Or meeting
Or toileting
Or driving,
Signals the arrival of a message
From just about anyone, sent
From just about anywhere.The sound of arrival demands
The attention of the receiver
(“I’ve got to take this”),
Like the insistent cry of a newborn.

There's nothing quite like the
Clarion call of a common ring tone
To generate a frenzy of twisting, turning, patting,
Reaching and grabbing: "Nope. Not mine."

Alas, with all messages essentially traveling
At the same speed,
Through the same pipeline,
How is it that the relative importance
Of one message can be distinguished
From any other?
“Pick up! Pick up! I’m in the ER!”
“Hey, how do you spell ‘misspell’, one ‘s’ or two?”

If all messages appear equally important
By virtue of the speed they span
The distance to destination,
Which ones are the most urgent?
Which ones are worthy of a rapid reply
Or even of taking the time to find out?

To retain sanity, might such a
Lack of distinctions
Doom all messages to being
Discarded or disregarded?

On the other hand….
Instead of turning a blind eye or deaf ear,
Is the socially mandated alternative
Now the giving in to the siren song of
The electronic beck and call
And the click and clatter of constant comment?

Have we reached saturation
Or do we still crave yet more stimulation.

Such is the communication conundrum.


  1. Hi Bill, food for thought. If we knew what each caller has to say, would we even answer? Some sell, some beg, some inform, some take, and some give. Which is which? We answer them all or send to voicemail, requiring another step to access. Some days it is too much.

  2. Speaking of a poem a day, I had a friend in college who wrote a sonnet a day. Don't know if they were ever published.
    That's a great effort, Bill, in conjunction will everything else you do.