You Want to Read a Poem

Inspired by “Becoming” by Ifeoluwa Ayandele.

Focused Distraction, Bhakti Ziek

You want to read a poem.
You want authentic experience:

Just you alone with a feeling-idea,
made by a poet approachable.

You find the poem on a white page, perfect. But
this page’s owner has the poem surrounded:

It’s every swimsuit you’ve ever wanted.
It’s nothing personal, the owner says.

Somebody's gotta pay
to keep all these lights on.

It’s okay. You’re too smart to be
influenced. You read:

I really do want that bikini.
My skin looks good in green.

But maybe I’m too old for that. Maybe this.
How much is it? Look away. But

it’s too late.
A new tab is spiraling.

You fight its hypnosis.
Close it.

You want to read a poem.
You go back, line one:

          "January, with its harmattan winds,"

but now,
Just a quick click to the dict—

                    a dry, dusty wind that blows
                    dark a season on the south
                    of the Sahara Desert.

The poet gives you the new word twice;
If you really want to understand it,

you should at least see a photo.
Command-N, YouTube.

Between the 9 letters and "enter" you must press,
Your eyes scan 8 suggested videos.

David Mitchell had to return his cat because…
          their personalities clashed.

Well that might be hilarious.
You deserve a good laugh!

Later, later.
You want to read a poem. Here,

this video is under a minute.
Hi, I'm Nicole Huckley asking you to act

because now is our best chance to pass
meaningful bipartisan legisla—Skip Ad.

At last, you watch,
half a world away,

a wall of dirt and rust fill the Nigerian empyrean
like a bowl pushed through by a wave.

Steadily the breaker thrusts clarity from the sky,
whipping crops and faces with pelts of dust.

The sun disappears in a red haze.
So that’s harmattan.

Now you want even more to read that poem.
You are ready to understand:

          I couldn’t find the knob to the front door,
          for my living room was littered…

You read a poem online today. 
You weren’t sure you could relate. ∎