Now What?

August 12, 2015

Photo courtesy Mikael Kristenson
Introduction by Ted Kooser: A poem whose subject needs no introduction! Melissa Balmain lives in New York State, and her most recent book is Walking in on People, from Able Muse Press.


Your TV cable’s on the fritz.
Your Xbox is corroded.
Your iPod sits in useless bits.
Your Game Boy just imploded.

Your cell phone? Static’s off the scale.
Your land line? Disconnected.
You’ve got no mail—E, junk or snail.
Your hard drive is infected.

So here you idle, dumb and blue,
with children, spouse and mother—
and wish you knew what people do
to entertain each other.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2014 by Melissa Balmain, “Nightmare,” from Walking in on People, (Able Muse Press, 2014). Poem reprinted by permission of Melissa Balmain and Able Muse Press. Introduction copyright ©2015 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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  1. It is true that folks in our culture depend more and more on electronic devices. In my neck of the woods I know families who still play board games and do puzzles and actually have conversations. Some folks are still talking about one memorable Christmas Eve when there was a power failure and they spent some lovely times together.

  2. Rita--We have become very enmeshed with our electronics in this household. Even so, reading a physical book is still one of my greatest pleasures, so that's what I would do!

    We used to play board games quite often, but have gotten away from it as our son has grown into adulthood. I'm a bit jealous of your families who still do those things. My mom is coming for a visit at the end of this month, though, and I imagine we will play some games and maybe even do a puzzle. Something to look forward to.