Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Thickness of the Arctic Ice:
For Earth Day

The thickness of the arctic ice is getting thinner
like a refugee packing her dreams in a suitcase.
The ice is slippery,
and the sun is an article of faith
that rises on a hunch.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Data Hublet 2

He was a programming geek, and I had received my BA in Art History. Here it was one of those relaxing Saturday mornings where I had a chance to look at my loveable geek sitting behind something other than his souped-up laptop computer. Actually, he was slumped behind the kitchen table and was sipping tea, not his usual double-strength French roast.

“Something on your mind?”

He placed the porcelain cup that I’d bought at a local garage sale on the bridge table. Despite all stereotypes, not all geeks make a lot of money, at least not in this economy.

“What do you mean?” he crinkled his one brow at me that the old boys on “Gay Eye for the Straight Guy” would’ve just loved to wax.

I stepped up to the plate. “Well, I said, two things,” enumerating things clearly enough so that my geek could go right to the source with a minimum of distraction. “Number one, you’re sitting here instead of your office. And number two,” I said, stirring the half-and-half into my own coffee cup, you’re drinking tea. Tea!”

Behind his hazel eyes, I recognized slight hurt. “Today I’ve decided I like tea. Besides, I’m designing a data hub,” he said softly. “And I need something different.”

And was I chopped liver? Last night he’d had a glass a wine with me, but had disappeared for the rest of the evening to “think about things.” I should’ve known better than to even ask, but then again, I’m a glutton for punishment. “A data what?”

“It has to do with business objects.”

I hated when he did that, rolling something out there, and then leaving it alone. He knew I’d bite. “I’m listening.”

“A data hub guarantees a master identity for a given business object, such as a customer, or a product.”

There was nowhere to run or hide. “Say again.”

“Say you’re in the supermarket and you have a bunch of stuff in your shopping cart.” I’d heard enough about shopping carts to last a lifetime. “I mean a real shopping cart,” he interjected, recognizing my blank stare. “Say that each item in your shopping cart has a memory about the exact place it had come from on each aisle, and from any section of the shelf.”

I nodded appropriately. “Well,” he brightened, “your shopping cart would be a data hub with the ability to unify and reconcile common data across a collection of information systems.”

I could see that something had clicked for him. It wasn’t me. Sometimes love can play tricks on you. He put down his tea cup. I went outside to look at the light.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Silver Kittens Say "Meow"

He decides
for the first time
not to come home for dinner
no, not now,
kittens are partying
beneath street lamps
wrapped in silver

in his head
he tells his mother
how he didn't hear her calling
from upstairs
how his ears must've been stuffed
from that bad flu

she'll nod
ask how school was
plow her fingers
through his spiked hair
the way he hates

as kittens meow
he wants to answer
not sound stupid
like he's never seen
a kitten

with a long piece of string

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Recession Times Two

She came toward me from between the electric eye of the supermarket door wheeling a shopping cart. A single paper bag looked out from behind its bars. Two cases of beer were stacked on the bottom of the cart. She wore jeans, brown hair held in a clip, shaking her cell phone upside down and sideways like a snow-globe, waiting for some picture to rearrange itself.

If she’s looking for clarity, forget it. Charity, that’s something else, something I count on standing here outside the supermarket selling subscriptions to newspapers going belly up or offering services as a leisure travel consultant. Who wants to bother? Everyone takes care of business online these days. But living totally online is a myth, at least that’s what I told the email address who hired me. “A person has to come up for air,” I said. “It’s the way we’re built.”

She passed in front of my wooden enclave squeezed between the parking lot and hundreds of shopping carts, red noses sniffing inside each other. She looked at me as though I was a dish of flan that’s been sitting in a restaurant window for two weeks.

“Wait,” I said.

She jolted the carriage to a halt. "What?”

“Like a free paper?”

She reached out, and for a moment, stood in the smile aisle. It was a pleasant site. Traveling across country for several months and living out of the trunk of my car I'd passed through one town after another watching families, men and women queuing up to catch a movie, standing outside bank windows with a plastic bank card, girls on television with short skirts and few lines, parties with open bottles of beer running down the sides of an iced cooler, tent cities on the edge of towns drawing a tight circle around my nipple and pulling hard until I couldn't breathe anymore.

“Want to subscribe? You’ll save $1,000 a year. Delivered to your doorstep. If you subscribe for two years, you’ll save $1,250. It keeps going up. Plus, you’ll get a 15-month calendar, free of charge.”

“There are only 12 months in a year,” she said with a hint of scorn.

“You can use the three extra ones anyway you like.”

“That’s too crazy.”

“I know," I admitted. "Say, what’s your name?”

“Margaret.” She handed me her cellphone like she was placing a wafer on my pink tongue. “It’s my phone,” she said, glancing at the message bar. “It's stopped working again. D'you know anything about decent plans?”

I had made plans and forgot about them not knowing why they were important. I had walked away from plans that other people had made. I had tried to follow plans that were treasure maps with arrows pointing due west, due north, and seas rolling with waves. My life hinged at this moment on one answer.

"You bet," I said, and winked at her.