Sunday Morning Poetry

Please Hold

This is the future, my wife says.
We are already there, and it’s the same
as the present. Your future, here, she says.
And I’m talking to a robot on the phone.
The robot is giving me countless options,
none of which answer to my needs.
Wonderful, says the robot
when I give him my telephone number.
And Great, says the robot
when I give him my account number.
I have a wonderful telephone number
and a great account number,
but I can find nothing to meet my needs
on the telephone, and into my account
(which is really the robot’s account)
goes money, my money, to pay for nothing.
I’m paying a robot for doing nothing.
This call is free of charge, says the mind-reading robot.
Yes but I’m paying for it, I shout,
out of my wonderful account
into my great telephone bill.
Wonderful, says the robot.
And my wife says, This is the future.
I’m sorry, I don’t understand, says the robot.
Please say Yes or No.
Or you can say Repeat or Menu.
You can say Yes, No, Repeat or Menu,
Or you can say Agent if you’d like to talk
to someone real, who is just as robotic.
I scream Agent! and am cut off,
and my wife says, This is the future.
We are already there and it’s the same
as the present. Your future, here, she says.
And I’m talking to a robot on the phone,
and he is giving me no options
in the guise of countless alternatives.
We appreciate your patience. Please hold.
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Please hold.
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. Please hold.
Eine fucking Kleine Nachtmusik.
And the robot transfers me to himself.
Your call is important to us, he says.
And my translator says, This means
your call is not important to them.
And my wife says, This is the future.
And my translator says, Please hold
means that, for all your accomplishments,
the only way you can now meet your needs
is by looting. Wonderful, says the robot

Please hold. Please grow old. Please grow cold.
Please do what you’re told. Grow old. Grow cold.
This is the future. Please hold.
.
.

by Ciaran O’Driscoll
from the journal Southword
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