Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Kindle, registered trademark" (M Bromberg)

"Kindle, registered trademark"
M Bromberg

"In the time it takes to skim the bestseller list
you can wirelessly download an entire book."

That's an ad for the Kindle

and the Kindle 3G, registered trademark,
on page 20 of the
NYT Sunday Book Review
of Feb 20 2011.

The tagline for the Kindle
describes my own self
ten years previous: "Smaller! Lighter! Faster!"

but the ad makes me pause. I re-assess
my own reading brain
in its process: "Heavier ... leakier ... slower."

I appear to be letting more things in,
the older I become,
in the hopes that more ideas will stay put.

I read entire books, page by page,
turning the pages slower and slower than I used to.
My brain

wirelessly downloads in the curious reactions
of synapse and nerve.
I enjoy the texture of the printed page
between my fingers,

the ink that still rubs off newsprint at the library
and leaves fingerprint smudges
on the cover of my mac:

the inky identifier that marks me
as a print reader, still.

I begin to notice more and more books in the library
with their broken spines and torn covers,
the plastic ripped,

as if they were buildings in the process of falling apart
and ideas being let loose
from their windows of unbound pages.

No threat of the Kindle doing that.
Its screen will only be blank
when it fails: you won't be able to read
a single downloaded word,

the ones and zeroes will be as indecipherable
as dead language.

My mind still downloads entire books, page by page.
It's taking longer, slower, and occasionally
I trace a word with my finger, in awe

of a meaning I am not certain of. I am reading,
not simply accessing, not scanning,
not storing information
to be tabulated and graphed.

Let the web be the great guardian of books:
the exact phrase and the precise paragraph,
the comma and the quotation-mark.

The Kindle, of registered trademark and sleek design,
will give you the Dialogues of Plato, Reagan's speeches,

quantify the Adventures of Superman
and Martin Luther King, Jr.,
encyclopedize both Hoagy and Stokely Carmichael,

download Einstein in an instant.
Facts are dead as tombs;an idea is still not responsible for what happens to it.

I read with all the faults that flesh is heir to. 
The Kindle can remember a million books 

with its infinite ones-and-zeroes, but has it ever actually read one?

"Kindle, registered trademark" is previously unpublished. M Bromberg's poetry is currently featured online in Big Bridge magazine (San Francisco) and he is at work on a chapbook of original poems.

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