Though I don't necessarily write in response to them, I enjoy the daily prompts on NaPoWriMo http://www.napowrimo.net/ and Robert Lee Brewer's "Poetic Asides" blog: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides. Today's poem is sort of a mash-up of the two: NaPoWriMo's "fourteener" in which every line has fourteen syllables (use as many or as few lines as you like) and Brewer's prompt to write a poem about a machine (the term "machine" can be applied very loosely). I recommend checking out both blogs daily for both inspiration and entertainment.
And now, without further ado, here's this morning's effort (with a pretty lame title, so if you have any suggestions, or any other comments, I'd be delighted if you'd share them in the comment section below):
TECHNOLOGIES AND TINDERBOXES
“Well, that was before we had technology,” the kid says
from the back corner. He wears his baseball cap backwards, slumps
low in his seat. Last week when I said write about something
that interests you, he asked if he’d get a lower grade
if it was boring. “Well, duh,” I said. Some kids squirmed at that.
“So what do you all think ‘technology’ means?” I ask them.
Computers, they say. Even my ninety-year-old mother,
who is not in this class, but is in some ways as much a
product of ‘technology’ as they are, says that. Cable
TV, TMZ, smartphone, a lifeline, she’s got it all,
even if she doesn’t wear the lifeline, doesn’t charge the
phone, and thinks real people mess with her internet server
just to annoy her or make her think she’s going crazy.
“There was a time, you know,” I say, “when hammerstones and
a piece of obsidian constituted radical
technology.” I catch myself before I say “I can
remember when . . . .” Probably some of them already think
I’m that old. “And candles. Can you even imagine what
a revolution they must have been? Artificial light,
whenever you wanted it, without building a real fire?
But to light them you’d need matches, or before that, flint and
tinder that you could carry around in a little box
on a string around your neck.” And all of them look pensive,
their minds like tinder, I think, if I could find the right flint.
When I was a little girl my grandmother told me a
story about a soldier who stole a tinderbox from
a witch; he used it to get rich and marry a princess.
Grandma didn’t tell me what a tinderbox was, or how
it worked. She’d grown up with matches, after all,
and besides, the tinderbox was magic, got from a witch.
I never expected to understand magic, only
hoped I’d be smart enough to recognize and use it if
I got the chance. Like hammerstones. Like matches. Like candles.