Poetry: Information Age

Those weekends, while
Bradleys gathered
on Kuwait’s northern border, their barrels
raised, the tankers’
breath drawn, our father
on the kitchen table, arranged
the hulking Macintosh he’d brought
home in his Chrysler Horizon.
Five

that year, as yet
unlettered in the epic
of disasters passing
beyond our block, I watched
with my sister the flickering
disk-drive light
its small beacon beneath
his touch. The dull
screen shimmered
to life.
Like

this, he’d say taking
our hands in his own & holding
our thin fingers to the keys. & we,
first
in terror then
in awe watched
the strange combinations of letters rend
the darkness. DOS. The chalky
cursor. The whir
& clicking the disk-
drive, like
a man, moved
through its work with.
When,

in fin de siècle Boston, Bell
to the mouthpiece plucked
a reed, he
heard first the same mechanical static. He flattened
his ear to the signal’s hissing as if,
there in his basement, hailed
by the great & ruined future. Our father

huddled
before the screen. Oh son
et lumière machine. Oh we
who in that new light looked
like a family folding
in on itself on the shores
of a burning empire. On the Tigris,

tanks in formation. In the basement, Bell
to Watson—do you understand
what I am telling you?
Yes, he said.
We entered
our names & erased them.

-Christopher Kempf, The Kenyon Review

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