System Restore
(free verse with incidental rhyme, a la Philip Larkin)
 
Last week, not thinking,
I punched a strange computer key
and spawned unceasing lunatic parades
of visual debris across the screen,
parades I could not stop or even evade.
But just when I began to give up hope
I found within a book “System Restore,”
a way the techs devised for us poor hackers’ sake
to turn computers back in time a day or more,
to halcyon times before a gruesome mistake.
 
Do for our lives, Bill what you’ve done to computers;
you are our century’s Superman;
and, as you know, Clark Kent one day
reversed the earth’s rotation, saving us
by turning back the time to days before
some evil villain’s heinous machinations.
 
And surely, Bill, you pity sweet Maude Muller,
who, having lived a life of drudgery and despair,
recalls how she and judge had missed their chance  
at bliss many years before. For her sake, Bill,
extinguish all those years of callouses and kids,
and put a comely Maude in a youthful judge’s arms.  
 
And while you’re at it, Bill, do the same for me:
erase the time my girlfriend ordered lobster,
and I couldn’t pay the bill;  
the time I rolled my car in showing off ;
the time I smoked a big cigar at  recess,
then vomited in class.
Yes, Bill, remove these acts and all the others
on my record even more bizarre,
the many, many times I chose to be an ass.  
 
Create, Bill, the greatest words of pen or tongue:  
“This key deletes forever what I did wrong.”*
 
*Whittier in “Maude Miller:”. . . of all sad words of tongue or pen/ The saddest are these: “It might have been.”

(2009)

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