As of January 1, 2014, incandescent light bulbs may no longer be manufactured in the United States.

Did you know ahead of time of irrepressible lawyers
Who chase claims through casebooks all night;
Of the charettes held by harried designers toward a nine A.M. deadline
To come up with a clump of tenuous sticks, palely reflecting an architectural vision,
perhaps a new confab of plates and bolts to hold the light you created;
Of the Bible scholars who would grasp this opportunity to strut their
Piety in midnight discursions through their sacred texts?

Did you envision, Thomas Edison, when you inserted that skimpy thread of carbon
Into an empty glass,
The bulky forms of men tramping to a night shift
In a foundry transported away from the rivers where the water wheels have fallen silent,
Now streaming assembly lines that belch out the electronic conveniences
Your invention brought us to desire?

Industrious and demanding as you were, what thoughts would go through your head
If you saw our distorted limbs flirting under lights
That wantonly beat to the pulse of a DJ whose scratching
Echoes across a century to your own cylinders?

Would you have sent us to the electric chair?
Would you have abjured your belief in a supreme intelligence?
Would you still have given us
The grid with which we lead our lives day and night under the lamps of your design?
The grid through which we watch each other and let others watch us
Every millisecond of every minute of every hour?

Would you expect us to scan each other
Through greedy lenses inspired by your kinetoscope
And leave the traces of our bumpkin postures, our flaccid smiles, our filament-thin acquaintanceships
For eternity?

This poem was published in table//FEAST, 2023.

Andy Oram
June 19, 2014

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