“The Don’ts” by Jeff Vande Zande

Jeff Vande Zande


(An Incomplete List)

Don’t let your cell phone rest
against your ear or any other body part. Don’t use the same ear
for every conversation. Don’t use your cell phone
while you’re driving
since it must continually reconnect with antennas,
which uses more power,
and the signal is reflected by the metal around you.

All of the above doubles the chances for salivary gland anomalies, gliomas
and acoustic tumors.

  Don’t own a cell phone.
    Never leave the house
without a cell phone
    because you never know when you’ll need someone.

Digitally Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECTs)
    constantly emit radiation.

Try never to use one while you are using one.

  Don’t use computers, printers, iPhones, iTouches, BlackBerries, etc.
  Wireless signals are a source of electromagnetic radiation.

Don’t doubt the truth of this; Google it for yourself.
 Don’t ever use the Internet.

Every search you execute exposes you to viruses.

Even if you don’t have wireless
    service, don’t leave your Wifi setting in the on position;
the device will emit electromagnetic energy
      in a continuous search
 for the nearest available router.

Don’t own a computer.

Try never to breathe on Ozone Alert days.

    Don’t stand within twenty feet of an operating microwave.

Don’t believe you’re safe.

Set your cell phone inside your microwave
to test it for radiation leakage. Call it
with another cell phone. If you can hear it ringing,
it means that microwaves can pass through the walls
of your microwave oven.

Don’t microwave
  your cell phone.
Don’t own a microwave.

Don’t forget to microwave leftovers to kill bacteria. Try not to eat leftovers.
  Don’t waste food.

If you can help it, don’t eat.

Don’t own a plasma TV
  which generate high levels
    of dirty electricity,
linked to fatigue,
difficulty concentrating
 and cardiac symptoms
         in sensitive people

(known as electrohypersensitivity).

Don’t forget to watch programs on your plasma TV about household safety.

  Don’t, if you can avoid them, own a television or a home.

Don’t put your feet up while relaxing; we don’t know why yet, just don’t.
Don’t forget to try to relax.
Don’t do anything stressful.

Don’t forget that stress is a sign that you are probably living.

Don’t wake up; don’t sleep.
  Don’t do anything that feels good.
  Don’t do anything that feels bad.
  Don’t do anything.

Don’t forget to breathe.
  Don’t forget to eat vegetables.

Don’t forget to remember that the fertilizers they use to grow vegetables can leave
trace amounts of carcinogenic nitrates in those salads you eat.

Don’t forget there’s nothing you can do about any of this.

This poem is already outdated.
This poem will never get old.
Don’t try to avoid reading this; it could save you.
  Don’t ever read this poem … it’s a proven killer.

from Rattle #36, Winter 2011
Rattle Poetry Prize Finalist


Jeff Vande Zande: “I owe the writing of my poem, ‘The Don’ts (an incomplete list)’ to my in-laws. They subscribe to a monthly newsletter that offers advice to retirees. When my father-in-law is done reading them, he puts them in the guestroom. One night, unable to sleep, I began to read an article with a title along the lines of ‘Why Your Household Electronics Are Probably Killing You’ or something fun like that. After reading that article, I got the idea for the poem, and I had a great time writing it. It’s a ‘found’ poem of sorts, though I needed to knock it into shape and make additions of my own to truly make it what I would call a poem.” (website)

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