Poet Commentaries

Change Tingles

The poem below I wrote this morning. It is a bit exaggerated.  It attempts to bring up something we miss in society when we make the changes we are making.  How does one quantify the worth of some of the little things we give up with technology.  

When you read the list of little things that we have lost there is no intent to rant.  Perhaps I hope for inspiration about how we can counter the loss or how we can temper our enthusiasm for social media and a cashless society.  I do not think in the end there has to be a loss at all I suppose, just a recognition of how we have to handle things differently.  

To give you an example.  My daughter’s boy friends text her.  They do not ring doorbells and they do not ask to speak to her on the home’s phone.  I cannot make my daughter tell them to ring the doorbell so I can meet them.  That would be like making him arrive by horse and buggy wearing a top hat.  Rather than rant about how awful it is I tried to figure out a patch, an update to the current social norms…unsuccessfully.

It used to be that I could go in the gas station to pay without feeling like a freak.  Why would you do that when there is the convenience of paying at the pumps. (it is this that inspired the poem below.)  It is difficult and awkward to go to the human operated till but by going I hear whispers not heard on social media.

I hear that profits at gas bars are down, that sales on items like chocolate bars have dropped.  There is in fact now a proliferation of advertising at the pump. The clerk inside has becomes a busker, asking me if I want my whole car washed.  Things have changed here. It is more difficult to connect.

For now I get to be part of the underground. Bravely walking past the pay at pump customers.  Patiently waiting for the barrage of questions about whether I have this or that point card; answering calmly with zero tone in my voice that “no, I do not get the point”   

I ignore the puzzled frown when I say it will be debit and insert my card.  “No I do not do tap”  I do not comment about how receipt ink fades too quick as I carefully fold the receipt for my bookkeeper.

Depending on if there is a line I will make eye contact and often I get to chat.  This of course is just as bad as my writing but when done in person I can watch for all the old signs that the conversation is done.  You know, the rolled eyes and the hands shoo shooing me, the kick on my backside and gentle push from behind.  

Oh how I could go on about the lost subtleties.  It is like being blind walking with a cane, having to pick up tones, pauses and breathing patterns.  Sure one learns how to feel the wafts of air when talking with gesticulators and one can sense the eyes twinkle with wit but it takes practice to put it all together and feel comfortable.  Blind or not blind we will always miss the touch of a hand when being consoled.

Some of what I say is humorous but as a businessman it also tempers how I use social media.  I do not want to be that guy that pushes sales and I imagine what the conversation would be like with my customers in days gone by.  What can I bring to the social media table that used to be normal because not everything has to change.  How can I ask about family or comment on their antique car? These are not talks that social media handles well.

I will give you a final example.  A very dear customer died over the weekend.  I have got to share this with other customers and my workers.  The news has spilled out and it is important.  Time was spent with her spouse.  I could not post this on social media as that is the family’s job.  It is not that kind of news.  If it were not for my personal contacts, if all connections were through social media, the process would be far different.  I do not say all bad, but I cannot imagine having this conversation without eyes reflecting back at me the heartfelt sorrow I feel, to be able to properly express my empathy and my own loss.



Change Tingles


The coin clatters
dropped from too high
on an unwitting palm.

It jiggers and spins.
A dribbled metal disc
shaking it off.
A horse rearing,
prancing between fence lines,
tasting the freedom
of a polished counter.

The clerk and I
both call heads.

Clerk’s stubby fingers,
unsuitable for picking
or loose wallpaper
or gum under tables
fail to bridle it.
He herds it to an edge,
and pinches it
between thumb and stub
and brings it to heel.

The cowboy in him
whoops it up,
grabs my palm
and in slow motion
presses the penny
in my palm,
folds my finger
and pats my head.

I feel it.

Cool copper?
His lithographed fingerprint?
The penny’s thoughts?

Visions of dark tills,
velvet lined cases
dusty pockets
and flipped coin duals.
Fingerprint on fingerprints,
the traveler’s luggage
decoupaged with labels
of countless encounters

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