The Distracted People

Photo: davy carren

I live in the wasteful age

of the industrial abattoir

mass killings and shopping sprees and displaced refugees

throw-away attire is the thing

along with excess packaging to be tossed into the sea

we are irresponsible consumers instead of informed citizens

what we lack in imagination we make up for with new gadgets

we are commodities and buyers

busy and loose

occupied by trifles

about as aristocratic as a hamburger and fries

addicted to opiates and apps

brains on loan to the catchiest jingle

saddled with debt and acronyms and unreliable sources

with touchscreen souls we scroll centuries of gathered knowledge

and swipe right until a new game appears

we have a thousand ways to express having not much to say

feelings all stowed up in badges of being liked

we’ve got a dozen versions of the same product all on sale

we’ve got tiny cameras in our pockets hooked up to the social eyes of the world

a nation of voyeurs catching calculated glimpses to see how the other half staggers

insulated in a bubble of our own constructs and echoes

we turn against each other

only seen how we wish to be seen

and seeing only what we wish to see

(And so, for a penny, the old guy says,

“We didn’t have cell phones or email addresses

We wrote letters to each other and sent them with Elvis stamps through the mail

We streaked parking lots and parted our hair against the wind.”)

this is the way the world ends

with mass extinctions and droughts and famine and extreme weather from a warming globe

with leaky nukes and lead in the water and incurable pandemics

with morons in charge

with resources hoarded by the wealthy few

with imbalanced ecosystems and disappearing coral reefs

with plastic-strewn beaches and unbreathable air

with landscapes of sky-high “Condo Towers” where nobody lives

with mega-slums and megachurches and minimal brains

this is the way the world ends

with casually uninformed and disenfranchised citizens

with clickbait addicts spelling in emojis

with closed bookstores

with consolidated power and jailed press

with shorter memories and neglected duties

with no thought to the future’s blight

with jobs in short supply

with too much comfort and ease

with the robots in control

this is the way the world ends

with fraudulent elections divided by gerrymandering and hacks

with profit outmaneuvering public good

with the love for personal wealth trumping ideas of prosperity for all

with intellects depending upon chosen news feeds

with lost wonder and simulated awe

this is the way the world ends

this is the way the world ends

this is the way the world ends

not with a wallop but a squeak