I can tell by the look in his eye that my robot has been blowing his cash
down at the casino. He looks like a muppet when he gets this way.
He tells me my haircut is too angular, “like a cop.”
We have a great Saturday, though: driving range, burgers, car shopping.
I even make dinner: “impossible” burritos, bourbon and vanilla panna cotta.
I ask, “Hey so what’s eating you, buddy?” All I get is a furtive glance,
a loud release of steam, low static I can’t quite make out.
He doesn’t seem to be thriving at his job. I think he stuffs envelopes all day,
and gets frustrated with the database. The other day he came home
with a note stuck on his back that read, “bot boy.” I pulled it off
without him noticing and never mentioned it.
I send him articles I think will interest him, about the possibilities
of interstellar travel, or particles that act in unison despite the distances
between them, or tacos. According to the app he sees the texts, but no reply.
The place stinks of lubricant. From the basement I hear a cheery little tune
that starts to lift my spirits. I immediately realize it’s just the music
that automatically plays to signal the completion of his flushing process.
He’s in a cover band, and I went once. An austere, murky stage,
him in a blond wig off to the side at the keyboards. Doing homage;
I get it. They were fine. But that night, before I could stop myself,
I told him the problem with computers is that everything you do
with them happens in the past. I said, “That’s not living.”
My robot spends nights at his desk trying to come up with a way
to rebuild himself out of tiny autonomous interlocking pieces,
as the wadded paper balls of failed ideas pile up around him.
In bed, I’m thinking about how when I’m busy my cells are busy;
when I’m at rest my cells are at rest, or fighting invaders,
or doing something they weren’t able to get to earlier.
In the morning I happen to look out the window as my robot’s rocket
pulls out of the driveway, and I glimpse his face at the wheel,
blank as if rebooted, staring intently ahead, as he hits the accelerator
and almost instantly achieves escape velocity.
John Sieracki is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst MFA Program for Poets and Writers, where for several years he read for jubilat. He writes, acts, and directs as a member of the Connecticut River Valley Poets Theater (CRVPT). He earns his keep as director of development and communications at Mass Humanities
© Variant Literature Inc 2021