October 26, 2021

Richard Westheimer

INTO THE METAVERSE

The entire universe must … be regarded as a single indivisible unit …
an undivided wholeness of flowing motion.
—David Bohm

… the metaverse presence is this feeling that you’re really there …
—Mark Zuckerberg

The moon-illusion looms large tonight,
is red and extended—rising
full in the east. It chases Jupiter,
with its string-of-pearl moons,

along the ecliptic, and I can’t help
but note my standing on this spinning sphere,
here, slung around a yellow star spiraling
in a mandala of a hundred thousand

million other stars. I double-helix
my way through space, on this small small
place swept up in this small small part
of a universe I can only grasp with my eyes

closed. I go inside where it is too bright to see anything
but things. There I find the kitchen table—on it, a vase
of late-cut daisies, a scattering of fall-tinged maple leaves
brought in from the yard, a pot of greens haloing steam

up to an incandescent bulb humming its sixty-hertz aum.
Deb sits across, with that green flannel shirt
so soft to touch, unbuttoned two-down at the top.
She peers up, her eyes flash like candle light,

and we set to our meal. We eat to the clink of fork
and bowl and sighs and a few satisfied words and turn—
to our screens, entranced by pixels plentiful as stars,
and gaze into the metaverse, an infinite rabbit warren

of Cheshire Cats and Mad Hatted murderers of time
where it’s always High Tea so long as I get my order in by 9.
I am Alice knocked about by algorithm, locked into lines of code,
processed and stored in a database for future use.

There’s no way to shake loose, to get back to the world
of being—with those savory greens, that unbuttoned blouse,
and a moon fully rising into a wholeness of everything,
which might, if I keep scrolling, show up in my feed.

from Poets Respond
October 26, 2021

__________

Richard Westheimer: “The person who brought us Facebook is, it turns out, not content with redefining social relationships. He is now determined to dominate what is called the ‘metaverse,’ a virtual reality where ordinary experiences are replaced with computer mediated ones. To make this move, Mark Zukerberg plans to change the name of his company to something, perhaps, more “meta.” I am one of the many who struggles to draw hard lines between my love of the corporeal and my near addiction to the digitally enabled. As I conclude in the poem, I’ve not yet escaped the latter. Perhaps I never will as ‘meta’ supplants ‘uni.’” (web)

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