Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Hacker

(After Poe’s ‘The Raven’)

Once upon a midnight dreary,  browsing websites weak and weary,
Over many a meme I’d seen before,
While I nodded, sleep-eye wiping, suddenly there came a typing,
As of some old friend skyping, skyping at my monitor.
`’Tis some spam,’ I muttered, `skyping at my monitor –
Only this, and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each facebook member posts their food and sporting score.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From the internet a cease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.

And the lilting loop of each user’s sign in
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`’Tis some spammer entreating entrance at my monitor –
Some spambot entreating entrance at my monitor; –
This it is, and nothing more,’

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ typed I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is my eyes were drooping, and so gently was the booping,
And so faintly you came typing, skyping at my monitor,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I brightened my monitor; –
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But silence began to sink, and the darkness gave no link,
And the only word there typed was the italic word, `Lenore!’
This I cut and pasted, and text pinged back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.

Back to the browser turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a typing somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window software;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis some spam and nothing more!’

Open here I clicked the link, when, with many a drag and scroll,
Up there popped a chat avatar like emoticons of years before.
Not the least ‘sup’ or ‘lol’ made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with manner of spam or hacker, froze upon my monitor –
Overlapped my Pallas wallpaper on my monitor –
Overlapped, and froze, and nothing more.

Then this ebony box beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the textbox it wore,
`Though thy looks be much like spam, thou,’ I said, `art sure no scam.
Ghastly grim and ancient hacker wandering from the nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is in the Matrix core!’
Typeth the hacker, `Nevermore.’

Much I marvelled this anonymous chat to read discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning – little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing text upon his monitor –
Spam or bot above the statue wallpaper upon his monitor,
With such name as `Nevermore.’

But the chat, sitting lonely atop the wallpaper, showed only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he typed – not a character then he skyped –
Till I scarcely more than griped `Other friends have spammed before –
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have shown before.’
Then the chat said, `Nevermore.’

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly keyed in,
`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some shady database whom unmerciful lowercase
Pinged fast and loaded faster till his code one burden bore –
Till the software of his system that melancholy burden bore
Of “Never-nevermore.”‘

But the hacker still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of chat and wallpaper and monitor;
Then, upon the leather sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous avatar of yore –
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous avatar of yore
Meant in typing `Nevermore.’

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fiend whose blinking cursor now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s leather lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose leather stitched lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, I heard a grinding, system slower, lagging from a muted iTune
Sung by U2 whose drum-beat silenced on the muted stereo.
`Wretch,’ I cried, `thy Programmer hath lent thee – by these dial-tones sent thee
Sprites – Sprite and Gin from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind tonic, and forget this lost Lenore!’
Typeth the hacker, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if spambot or devil! –
Whether troller sent, or whether mailing list tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –
On this home by horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore –
Is there – is there ointment in your drawer? – tell me – tell me, I implore!’
Typeth the hacker, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if spambot or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore –
Tell this soul with heavy heart if, within the distant bonus level,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore –
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?’
Typeth the hacker, `Nevermore.’

`Be that word our sign of logging off, spambot or fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting –
`Get thee back into the matrix and the Ethernet’s core!
Leave no hard drive wiped as a token of that lie thy soul hath typed!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! – quit the chat window upon my monitor!
Take thy cursor from out my heart, and take thy form from off my monitor!’
Typeth the hacker, `Nevermore.’

And the hacker, cursor never sinking, still is blinking, still is blinking
On the wallpaper gif of Pallas that decorates my monitor;
And his blinks have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the backlight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the monitor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!

for elder hampton, a mormon i met on the 87 bus in 2002, and whose first name i actually thought was “elder.”

“just remember,” elder hampton solemnly said,

“god loves you. and so do i,”

a sentiment he emphasized by gently

placing his paw on my hand resting on the

bar top.

“why elder,” i said, “i had no idea.”

as I flipped my hand

over, curling

my fingers around the kid’s knuckles

letting my mischeivous and only slightly

insincere smile

speak for itself.

Guest Room

So I guess you reach a certain age when
even catching up isn’t enough, when
you can spend an extended weekend in
each other’s homes but never find yourselves
alone for long enough to discuss more
than the particular activity
at hand. You have a great time, get along,
click like nothing has change and time hasn’t
gone on separately for the two of
you, but the day to day despair eludes
mention, probably without intention,
but nevertheless. At the end of the
trip, you find yourselves saying, “Let’s do this
again, and soon. I miss talking to you.”

Top 10 Blackface Halloween Costumes That Are Legitimately Acceptable And Totally Not Racist To Wear

10. […]

Relaxation

Have You Never Been Mellow?
– Olivia Newton-John

I. 1972. Motion.
I am going on only what I’m told here, from parents,
grandparents, people who were there and could retain
the memory of the constant blur of my hands, my feet,
always moving, even in sleep. 2 am rides in the car,
being placed on top of the washing machine during
the spin cycle. My father would push me in my stroller
to Nantasket Beach, unbuckle me at the point where
the white sand ended, and let me run. Keep moving.

II. 1982. Entenmann’s.
They were uncomplicated, small, easy to consume.
One by one they’d go down until they were tasteless
and I was just after the sensation of chewing,
of doing something that happened automatically
and without my permission. Because I thought
this was nourishment. Because in hindsight
it had nothing to do with sustenance and everything
to do with keeping my mouth full so that I wouldn’t scream.

III. 2002. E&J V.S.O.P.
Not quite bottom shelf, not entirely respectable.
I was the punchline long before I’d heard the joke
about you, about us. On a cold night, walking home,
I can still smell you, your siren song smell of bad apples
and battery acid tang. But this was never about quality.
Indeed, most nights you never even made it into a glass.
This was about how fast you could get me where
I needed to go. Oblivion always trumps unwinding.

Drumstick

Not like chicken, but a disposable
plank to hit skins with, a giant wooden
downstage guitar pick, twirled and discarded
at the end of the night, but forever
cherished thereafter by the overjoyed
passerby lucky enough to snag such
a massive corporeal reminder of
his or her time in this venue, the sheer
pleasure extended over this one night,
even if it’s for the second or third
or 54th time. These are the moments
of poetry in our lives, when we can
see what we are, where we don’t want to be:
namely, anywhere that isn’t this stage.

Manic Pixie Dreamgirl; or, the Post-Postmodern Prometheus

She came to life on a cold, flat slab, a thin slice of pulped plant flesh cut down to 8.5×11 inches and college-ruled with blue lines and pink borders on the edge. Her master made her through an ungodly alchemy of other fictional females, the edges of their words stitched together like skin. Her fingers came from Garden State; her left leg from Elizabethtown, while her right came from The Perks of Being A Wallflower; her luscious lips were culled from High Fidelity‘s Charlie; her fashion sense was stolen from one Holly Golightly; and her voice was ripped straight from the throat of Zoe Deschanel herself.

In short, she was perfect. So he flipped the switch and brought the page to life — his beautiful, monstrous bride, unnaturally thrust into reality and forced  to do his bidding. He cackled wildly as the little black inkjets spit her out upon the page in all her bubbling two-dimensional glory. “Arise!” he screamed, “Arise!” as the thunder clapped behind him, its cavernous boom breathing life into his creation.

When her eyes sprung open, he saw that she had a heterochromia — one green eye, one brown, a subtle quirk that brought her unrealisticness to life. She looked at him with those sparkling, mismatched eyes and said, “Where am I?”

“New Jersey,” he replied. “Or, maybe LA, I don’t know, I haven’t really decided yet. Williamsburg? That’s kind of in the middle, right?”

“Williamsburg, wow! I’ve never been to New York City,” she said as she sat up on the table and peered around his office laboratory. She saw posters of indie rock bands tacked up to the walls, and fraying composition notebooks building wood piles in the corners by the sagging full-size mattress that he pretended was a bed. “Do you have any tea? I could really use some organic honey chamomile with ginger, one Stevia and maybe just a splash of almond milk. Have you heard the new Arcade Fire record? I haven’t, I don’t listen to music released after 1973. Oh! Let’s go dancing! I’ve never danced before. Is there weather outside? It should definitely be raining, unless it’s sunny, which is also good, too. Do you have some kind of whimsical pet name I should call you?”

“Jesus Christ, shut up already,” he said.

“But…I don’t know your name,” she said with a sparkle in her smile.

“You can call me ‘Master’,” he said. “But just don’t talk right now. That’s not what I made you for.”

“What do you mean? A free spirit can’t be made like this. I’m independent, a free woman. Isn’t that what you wanted?”

“Well, yes, but you’re not supposed to…I don’t know, want things. You shouldn’t have like, opinions or whatever. Jesus Christ!” He crumpled up the paper, crushed it smaller, smaller still, until it turned into a little ball that fit inside his fist, then he threw it at the trash can and stomped out of his bedroom, slamming the door behind him for dramatic effect.

But what he didn’t realize was that it was already too late. He had already let his creation out into the world. In all her quirky wonder, in all her hypomanic majesty. And it was a world that she could never understand, a system of rules that she could never truly fit inside. So she grabbed the nearest hoodie, crawled out his bedroom window, leaving the curtains flapping behind her in the evening breeze, and she escaped, setting out to find a place where she could spread her manic pixie madness and be free.