An Homage to Stephen Vincent Benet's Poem "Nightmare Number Three"


Benet Was Right by Jennifer C. Weil


Superjacent to my sanity

a blanket of wet smoke

making of sight of touch of taste

a grotesquery

mocking the elemental joys.

How did I (we) come so far

away from the feel of warm earth

underfoot, and breeze on neck,

and sun leaning into our skin

like a passionate lover?

Bits and PCs and bytes and memory

and time sucked up by the tap-tap-tapping

of the keyboard, caressed more often

and more earnestly than my child,

flesh and blood versus chips and plastic,

and can I (we) shake this off,

this miasmic dressing gown

that imprisons me (us) in cybertwilight

while the fragrant, loamy eloquence

of Nature shakes a sad and weary head,

wondering at the complex being

who has not enough bells and whistles

and always too much to do

and gathers not rosebuds but

vector errors, system crashes. Angst

is elemental now, its bulk a sad new birthright.

Around me (us) in surfeit are the signs;

how well we have fed the beast capacious

until it threatens to starve us of ourselves,

give the Machine exactly what it wants.


* * *