Thursday, October 1, 2015

Instant Message

Instant Message by Shawn P. Butler

In dark circles we danced,
Beating drum faces,
Drawing sonorous courage
Through malleus and incus,

Around campfires, circling,
Beating back fears and shadows
With the sound of our clapping
And primitive bellows.

We learned—shouting together,
Clapping hands on each other
Though alone, we could feel
Not alone, when willing, together

To break silence with sound,
First with noises, then voices,
Then instruments and music,
To connect the disjointed

In a harmony of engagement.
Interactivity unrivaled by men.
Connectivity beyond the ages.
Each man in line for his turn

To turn and to taunt, to rant
And wave—the audience, prisoner
Before the stage.
The end of an age:

When you knew me and I knew you
By smell and touch, and other senses
Unnamable. That’s what it meant to connect—
A word so misused, it’s become senseless.

To connect, not just with words
But the human condition,
Was simpler before silicon, fiber,
and electromagnetic transmission.

The upright animal reached out and spoke
And shouted to be heard throughout its cave.
Now that shouting continues, not ending, but echoes
To reach cave after cave after cave.

That cavernous cave is the enemy, now.
No walls and no ceiling
Stop no echoes
And offer no protection.
At once every voice is heard everywhere

And at the same time, so in listening too much,
We are deaf all the same.
So we stare at each other, no more fires, no more dancing
And we are alone all together, yet still altogether alone.

Did the dark really die? Did the fire win the fight
To block out the lonely, the fear, and the night?
Did we replace one beating for another—
Trading drawn skins for plastic keys?

But we’re still drumming. Still making ourselves heard.
So communicating, but not listening,
No, not to hear but to feel
Like we are not alone
In the dark.

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