Busy Box, All Too Busy Box (poem)

Flash and bang and motion flicker in my periphery
Demanding brief bursts of comment but never silence.
What is there to like? But approval is courted and demanded:
Notice me! It would be unlike my friends not to like what I like
And we are all friends even if we are indifferent.
That rascal Pavlov knew his onions and we are all suckers for them.
We bite every single time despite the lingering aftertaste.
After taste, what? We are biting on bytes of virtual validation
With none of the calories of regular communion wafers. Now divinity
free!
We are social mammals howling at each other from behind glass.
We long and judge and rage and crave contact but none is forthcoming.
We have at last achieved a life-long analogue of the seventh grade.
With inarticulate desires and inappropriate urges safely partitioned
By wide aisles between long rows of desks.
We mutter nastily and blame it on our neighbor. We pass trite notes.
We can never quite touch. We will never pass spelling.
I have sojourned years too long among the pixels
And have forgotten that to commune with myself in unwired repose
Is more than a mere simulacrum of companionship.
As I struggle to find words that have been streamlined out of use
I marvel that communication has become its own opposite.
There is no substance in the vocabulary of gossip. It shimmers and fades.
I no longer wish to matriculate in the school where it is taught.
There is much beyond it to like, though I am not bidden to like it.

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