does not compute

My wife had a pretty frustrating time today
trying to use my computer to send an email.
She is not used to my steam-driven machine,
and dislikes having to keep the boiler fired
and the mouse fed, as she hates any rodent.
Besides, shoveling coal is not her forte, she says—
in the words of Al Purdy—”with a minimum of boredom.”

She was on my ultra slick streamlined machine
because her old wood-fired cast-iron model
a 486 with an amber monitor running DOS
(no mouse, don’t you see?)
had finally croaked—either that, or its
parchment warranty in the original hieroglyphics
had finally expired. You think I exaggerate:
John, down at good old JL Computers
(We fix what we sell; we fix what we didn’t sell)
tells me that my three year old computer
is older than I am in computer years,
so I can sympathize. “With a minimum of boredom,” Al.

[Al, on of the great “working class” Canadian poets, used the phrase in his wonderful poem about domestic life, “Bathtub Beer”. It does not come up when you Google it, so I expect it has never appeared on the Internet. A shame. Al’s work usually had a very distinctive rhythm and tone. You should hear Susan Musgrave do her impression of Purdy. Susan stayed in our home once, when she toured schools through our region.] 

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About riverwriter

Poet, playwright, duplicate bridge player, website designer, cottager, husband, father, grandfather, former athlete, carpenter, computer helper for my friends, theatre designer, backstage polymath, retired teacher of highschool English, drama, art, a baritone singer in a barbershop quartet, who knows what else? wordcurrents is on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wordcurrents/ Doug also has a Facebook page, "Incognitio", related to his novels.
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2 Responses to does not compute

  1. danae McC says:

    Thanks for the added note. I did google Al Purdy last evening and found a few of his poems online.

    On Amazon I found his “Collected Letters” which I will order, since I “collect” correspondence and biographies of writers of all stripes. I saw mention that his poetry matured greatly as he aged, so I think I’ll order his most recent volume, “To Paris Never Again”, unless you can recommend a favorite of yours. Unfortunately, much of his work seems to be out of print.

    I feel slightly ashamed that I’d never heard of him until I read your poem and learned how highly his writing is regarded by Canadians.

    Funny to contemplate having to feed a mouse and fuel a computer! None of mine have possessed that degree of charm.

    • riverwriter says:

      If you really want to enjoy Al Purdy’s work, you have to hear a recording of his voice reading his work. He had such a distinct sound and cadence. I can’t think offhand of one work I would recommend over others.

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