Ned Balbo



For all your post-life social media needs

Reluctantly, I opened an account
sooner than I’d expected or desired.
You won’t believe how many friends I found:
requests backed up. No password was required.

The latest status updates bring surprises
decades out of date; a few are sad.
I scroll the page, absorbed. A comment rises,
then descends on some eternal thread.

I wouldn’t say I like the conversations,
although I’d feel much worse if there were none.
I post replies, then wait, a slight impatience
stirring… Is someone out there? Anyone?

At first, I felt relieved to find my profile
looked complete the moment I logged in,
but why can’t I update it? In a while,
I’ll click on “Help” and, maybe, try again.

I’m told the site is free and always will be.
Still, I feel unsettled, slightly lost…
Is nothing tangible? Who’s listening, really?
Why should I care if strangers like my post?

—Yes, there are strangers here. We’re not all friends.
Somehow, the long day’s twilight never ends.
I tap the keys; there’s nothing else to do.
It won’t be long before I friend you, too.

Tailgater Late to Yoga

You loom behind us in your SUV,
too fast, too close, though I exceed the speed
allowed by law, my gently used Hyundai
still blocking your agenda. Do you need

to take a breath? My wife suggests you do:
I glance into the rear view, see you’re texting,
curse, accelerate (you want me to),
then brake, our green light gone. What happens next?

—No accident, as forcefully you swerve
around us to the lot where you step out,
rolled mat slung on your shoulder, every nerve
in overdrive, your cell phone’s sudden dropout

one more irritation that you’ll bear
en route to inner peace, if you get there.

Ned Balbo‘s latest book is Upcycling Paumanok (Measure Press). The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems (Story Line Press) was awarded the Poets’ Prize and the Donald Justice Prize. He is the recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Literature in Translation fellowship and currently teaches in the MFA program in creative writing and environment at Iowa State University.