Tonight’s collection of photo poems comes from the week of January 31st through February 8th of 2019. I’ve affectionately titled this collection Birds, Bikes, and Bots, though the photographs themselves didn’t appear in that order on The Guardian website. Besides just enjoying the sound of that alliterative title, I also believe the way it transitions from the most natural to most artificial is fitting. The first image captures a murmuration of starlings seemingly swarming about two White Storks in the West Bank; the second comes from Australia’s “elite men’s madison chase;” and the final image demonstrates the cutting edge of interactive technology from a nursing home in Paris. If you’ve read Isaac Asimov’s work (or seen I, Robot), this would be the unassuming baby step towards such a dystopian future. Each poem inspired by the photographs asks a question about how we will live in the midst of seeming chaos, aware of the brevity of our lives and the reality of aging. Like I said last time, be sure to click on the images to fully appreciate the photographers’ work or follow the links back to The Guardian’s website. (All poems by Vincent H. Anastasi – 2019)
(Image 1) Starlings and Storks I. Surely I have something to learn from the starling murmuration: mesmerized by nature’s intricate interweaving of wings, the breathtaking coordination of a thousand creatures, ever transfiguring with remarkable cohesion in uncertain space. II. Can I stand, stork-like, unmoved on this narrow pedestal, when thousands of volts flow beneath my feet and thousands of starlings swarm the air about me in ever-shifting throng?
(Image 2) Shadow Our shadows precede us, adumbrations cast by perpetual backlight. No matter how fine the figure in flesh, our distorted images outpace us: our families our names our words pre-announce our arrival, outrunning us in life’s race until death finally leaves us in the dust and our detached shadows roam free, like Peter Pan’s or Hans Christian Anderson’s, and only the shadow is remembered while we molder in the earth.
(Image 3) The Last Stage When I saw Dick Van Dyke Spring up onto a desk And dance a jig at ninety-three, I felt the same envy and awe That drives young children To keep swinging at the elusive slider Or practice, yet again, The laborious scales. Oh, to be so limber, so free! To drink from the mythical fountain, Defiant in the face of old age, Entropy, and death itself! (Though some have called it Mighty and dreadful) Not this -- corralled away In some personal care home Surrounded by other nonagenarians Doing the hokey-pokey, chair-bound, Or playing Simon Says with a Zora Robot, Hands over my head, A captive surrendering To the mighty and dreadful potential Of interactive technology.