Are You Happy? By Devon Balwit

Are You Happy?

There, inside the video call, my daughter sits
in a dorm room on scholarship. Her dad and I
plead, be happy, as if it were easy, the tilt-o-whirl
of Heidegger, Nietzsche, and the DSA not
flinging her this way and that, the new regime
in Washington pulling the rug out. She knows
I need her enthusiasm the way I do my coffee,
the way the dog needs to go out. Instead,
she’s circling the same vortex I did and do,
wondering how to mean anything at all. What
have I made, am I making, that could survive
a power outage? In the darkness of no-grid,
where the harvest from cultivating the feed?
My boss anticipates the time when AI work
for us, but that presupposes we know how
to fill our hours, one after the next (and can afford to).
There were decades I would have said yes.
Now, always, I feel the pull of something other
than what I’m up to, as if hooked to an IV
of discontent. Some call this nothing more
than sea-change—those of us old enough
to remember no-Net, unsettled by its omnipresence.
And that is why I look to my children to praise
this brave new world, to say, See, we are
happier than you. Life is better now.

By Devon Balwit


Devon Balwit is a writer/teacher from Portland, OR. She has six chapbooks and two collections out/forthcoming in the world. Her poems have appeared here in The Rising Phoenix Review, as well as in The New Verse News, Poets Reading the News, Rattle, Redbird Weekly Reads, Rise-Up Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Mobius, What Rough Beast, and more.

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