i sing the keyboard Selectric

(a first draft with apologies to Whitman lovers everywhere)

I sing the keyboard Selectric,
The keyboards which I loved and those few which loved me,
They will not keep up with my fingers nor respond to them,
But IBM corrupted me, charged me full of longing for the charge of the ball.

Who could doubt that once corrupted, we would conceal ourselves?
If once defiled, we would not attempt to defile others?
If the up-and-back could not salve our soul?
If the jittering ball were not our soul itself?

The love of its inky black nothingness of a ribbon, we scarcely balk to account,
That of the ball is perfect, and that of the ribbon is perfect.

The expression of its typeface balks account,
But the expression of a well-made page appears not only on the paper,
It is in the slight indentations felt on the paper's reverse, it is curiously in the non-smearing type left by supple wrists,
It is in the ball's walk, the absence of carriage, respondent to flex of wrists and fingers; cover does not hide it.
The strong black strokes jump from the rag cotton carrier,
To see it conveys the best poem, perhaps more,
You linger to see what life it might bring back to dead prose.

Bridge from Underwood to cathode ray tube, to green dots pointillistically imbuing meaning in blackness,
The thin dark lines of letters stringing meaning, the meaning within you and me,
The exquisite realization of print;
O I say these are not the parts of prose only, but of the writer's soul,
O I say now these black lines are that soul, meaning.

5 thoughts on “i sing the keyboard Selectric

  1. Love this! It takes me back, reminding me of the satisfying, almost hypnotic sing-song of the “clickety-clack” of the keys as the typeface met the paper set in the carriage, its tempo rising and falling in amost symphonic splendor as the writer transferred their thoughts through their fingers to the printed page.

    Well done!

  2. Within moments I was captivated by your poem. It felt like a ride and I was moving with the mechanisms, perhaps part of them. I’ve an old typewriter that I rescued from a garbage pile. It’s heavy and beautiful. You make me want to figure out how to fix it and use it again, to see what words feel like when pressed onto the paper with force.

  3. I’m wondering if any readers actually are familiar with “I Sing The Body Electric” by Walt Whitman. I have ‘stolen’ his structure and a fair number of his words to craft this parody. It runs true to all the comments, but….there’s a bit more going on here.

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