Privacy Poem

Where do we get this notion
of privacy?
Is privacy a value,
or is privacy a virtue?

If privacy is a value,
it’s simply a worth
we want, and what we want
is not always what is good
for us:
we want alcohol,
tobacco, and firearms;
fast cars with sound
so loud we need
earplugs;
instant accesses
to tête-à-tête boxes
where we spy
on our bosses.

But is privacy a virtue,
like love, patience, for
giveness,
joy of living, or courage
to befriend?

Abuse of surveillance
does not make a virtue
of privacy,
just as, as Ivan Illich
explained,
protection
is not the same as
safety.

But getting back
to privacy:
we want to be seen
and heard at the party
but not in the morning
when the porcelain white
face throws up
its image in the little pond.

The poet wants to be read:
“Read me! Read me!”
But the words seem so
private,
no way to enter
the text.
“I’m in here!”
the poet exclaims,
as if from the depths
of some Xanadu privy,
and when we hear
the roller of big cigars,
his call a private scream
behind a rude screen,
we know the poem
is finished
and about
to go
public.

In public the words squirm
for privacy, wriggling
across the page
heading
for a clear margin.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Hum … One of your cats is certaintly baffled 🙂 No way round these weird systems. Illich points to institutional results … to think rich and live poor …
    As words are wriggling and, like you say, heading for a clear margin, some will hear and hear some more. Poetry protects itself.

    “The deeper education consists in unlearning one’s first education.”
    ― Paul Valéry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joe Linker says:

      And I’m still unlearning. I’ve a lot to unlearn. I think I shared this before: “and down they forgot as up they grew.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is such a fun poem. I’ve a lot to unlearn too, and forget, especially some of the stupid school teachers along the way. Must read more Linker and Cummings 🙂

        Like

  2. bristlehound says:

    “I’m in here” – A powered insight Joe, beautifully captured. B

    Like

    1. Joe Linker says:

      Thx, B. How’s the changing tide yr way?

      Like

  3. bristlehound says:

    Everything ship-shape and dandy Joe. The Southern Oscillation Index shows a forthcoming drought and hot summer ahead, but what the hell, if we survived and thrived to this point in life- what’s a little dry period going to do?
    “The deeper education consists in unlearning one’s education” is interesting. For some time, it has been apparent we begin our lives at the base of a knowledge pyramid, gradually working to refine our ways to the tip- once all natural understanding has been trained from us, we then set out on a re-discovery journey only to find what we are seeking was there with us all along. Thanks for the thought provoking work, it is food for the mind. B

    Liked by 1 person

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