Visible Instruments


Michael Kelleher

The subject, you, sits writing at a desk.
Writing not in the sense of putting pen
To paper (here there is neither), but in
The sense of making meaning out of words.
Your fingers tap tap tap the letters on
A keypad, sending your computer an
Electronic signal, which sends it first
To a router, then to a modem then
Through a cable to a server to
Google Docs, which in turn sends it by
The same circuitous route as before
Back to your computer, where it makes
A digital letter on a screen. The
Process repeats until meaning is made.
This is known as "Cloud Computing." You
No longer sit writing at your desk, you
Transmit and receive signals from the clouds.
And then the rain begins to fall. It rains.
 
A sentence emerges: You will spend
The rest of your life in this place, and will
Live each day in sequence, followed by
Another, and you will each day wonder
How in fact you ended where you are.
It is not the place you imagined you
Would choose to spend your life. Not this place.
A sentence emerges: a set of words
Complete in itself, which typically contains
A subject, You, a predicate, will spend,
Conveys a statement, question, command or
Exclamation consisting of a main
Clause, You will spend the rest of your life
In this place, and sometimes one or more
Subordinate clauses, and will live each day
In sequence, followed by another, and
You will each day wonder how in fact
You ended where you are. Etcetera.
 
A house, a car, a job, a pet, a love.
You begin to list. This is a form of
Reasoning, a making reasonable
Of something without reason. You begin
To list in the sense of leaning to one
Side, typically from a leak, or cargo
That's unbalanced. See Heel: to be tilted
Temporarily by the pressure of
The wind or by the inconsistent
Distribution of weight on board a ship.
You are listing now: a house, a car, a job, a
Pet, a love. Everything in balance, yet
'Desire' is another form of list:
As in, I have little list to write. Or,
As you might have said, this is an accounting,
Or better yet, a counting up. A one
And a two and a three and a four and
Five and six and seven eight nine. And ten.
 
A thing told is an account, the telling
Thereof an accounting. The subject, you,
Sits at a desk, making meaning out of words.
Or rather you send signals to the clouds
To make a list of things that give meaning to
Your life. A love, for example, a job,
A house, a pet, a car. Is there order
To this list? The thing that comes first to mind
Is often perceived as the thing that is
Closest to mind, and therefore thought to be
Closest to the heart, the heart that beats, beats,
The heart that pumps the blood that runs through veins
Into the brain, where when one is asked to think
Of the first thing to come to mind, assumed
To be the most important thing to you,
The subject. Thus is meaning made. And thus
The list that you, the subject, make, is telling.
Tell us what the lists you've made should tell us.
 
Why are you here? What are you doing here?
Why do you sit listing, making meaning
Out of words? Haven't you any better
Way to spend your time? Well, no, I don't. Wait,
Who said that? I said that. Who are you? I
I am you, the subject of this sentence
That's emerging on the screen, the result
Of a series of rapid information
Transfers between a body at a desk
And a faraway cloud. It's part of a poem
Being written by you, the subject of
This sentence, who sits at a desk, making
Meaning out of words. The poem is the cloud,
Receiving and transmitting information.
It mixes signals often, sends them back
In different form. A sentence emerges:
You will spend the rest of your life in this place.
The sentence returns as a thunder clap.
 
Clap clap, clap clap, clap clap, clap clap, clap clap.
There's now no telling where the poem might go.
No longer clear who is writing, who is
Being written about, who is speaking,
Who is spoken to. You there, and you and
You and you. All are subject to this poem
And to the emergence of this sentence
Sentencing you to spend your life living
Each day in sequence, followed by another,
And to each day wonder how you ended
Where you are, and for which you, the writer,
Must account. Clap Clap Clap. This is the place
Where lightning strikes in the poem. Lightning strikes
A weeping willow tree. The tree begins
To burn. It heels in the wind. It lists. Tears
Won't help it now. The night is set ablaze.
Thousands of willows spontaneously
Combust. Clap clap clap clap. Clap clap clap clap.