Poems and Texts

Excerpt from I’m that angel, 2012— by Tyler Coburn

I’m that angel

This life provides the thinnest of consequence. Pain is only a mouse-click from palliation. Pleasure is just as close. A new e-mail rewards for the time spent waiting. A podcast is even better.

Here’s the beauty of my situation. There’s not a minute in the day when I can’t stream something into my head. If there’s a job for a technocrat in my constantly moving happiness machine then I filled it. I’ve become the administrator of my input. I’m pure receptacle.

Call it a higher state of neurosis? The thing you’re constantly putting off, that thing you’re distracting yourself from, is the silence, the absence of something else that clears ground for…a worthless idea. You fill the stage of production, because, if left alone to soliloquize, you’d have not much of anything to say. So you stream, you stretch. You participate in a worldview.

There are small ruptures: a teacher in Juarez strains to distract her students as gunfire erupts in the schoolyard. They may register in the eyes or throat, in the ears and then, eventually, in the brain, and a feeling of purpose will emerge, as if there were something more you could do. You find solace in the knowledge that something was transmitted, and, by virtue of not watching reality television, by virtue of not having sex or shopping, you could hear and did hear.

This is civic responsibility, no? This fills some quota for the day. Your mind, briefly fogged, can move on to receive other impressions, anecdotes, reportage and accounts. Perhaps it will linger over a dark thought, or laugh in the place of your mouth. When NPR acts for me, I myself act through NPR. You’re not participating, but in the time you devote to listening, on their behalf, you are doing some part, playing a part.

And why should it be any other way? If you were the subject of the story, who would read it? Who would be there to listen?

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