Microsoft Company Portrait 1978 — and Prophecy


Yes, everyone that year owned too much Italian Polyester.
Farrah Fawcett managed to flip-and-giggle, but no one else.
Contact lenses then were all rigid — less comfortable than a good pair of coke bottle glasses, yes.
But these twelve against the living room wall in scruffy suburbia,
Sweating into the sofa while the photographer focused,
Denim-vested, embossed vinyl pocket protectors,
Birds’ nests for beards, Dumbo ears flapping like
Wings, something wounded
By the schoolyard bully in each gaze, something crazed, something craving substitutes for
Unattainable cheerleader love left behind in a
Dust cloud of disappointment at the homecoming game
Unattended, the floats floating by with no hope of a smile from the queen, the court, or
Even the drum majorette corps, these twelve slammed here, smashed together for a
Moment torn from the screens they stared into like alchemists into glowing cauldrons,
Looking lost, smiling cautiously,
Standing, squinting, the there and the then too glaring,
Not daring to hope what the screens blinking green might show soon in unison,
These twelve, with their bony bug-eyed prophet,
They don’t look big enough to hold their mustard seed-sized germinating secrets, their
Secrets yet to sprout.

In winter, the brown patch of weeds doesn’t look like tomorrow’s tulips.
Jesus died, and his disciples ran away.
An egg, seen for the first time, looks the same as a skipping stone.
It, the shape of birth, is the same shape as a zero.

No one remembers it, no one,
But mid-Seventies, during lunch at a Harvard dining hall, interrupting all the
Anglo-Saxons mid-jocularity,
Freshman Bill Gates demurely removed his glasses,
Lay his tray on the linoleum, tapped on his glass with a teaspoon,
And announced in his quiet Western twang,
“I’m dropping out. I don’t need the Yale game to tell me who wins.
I don’t like the ice in Cambridge,
And all this sculpted paperweight erudition is just a waste of my time,
More valuable than anyone else’s here,
More valuable than anyone else’s, dollar for dollar, anywhere.
Just like those bruisers from Southie called it in the Townie pool hall last night:
“Eight Ball, right corner pocket,” then watched the ball roll in,
I’m calling it today: Stand back Wallstreetwalkers, Nobel Prizeniks, and Bookworms —
By the time I’m forty, I’ll have out-earned your combined family fortunes,
Even counting all the property you all lost gambling, drinking, and whoring since
You landed at Plymouth Rock, founded the Jamestown Colony, stole all the land from the Indians.

I’m so sick of your muscular-handshake, bleached grin monopoly on the things that you
Have grabbed, I’ve decided to sell the things that can’t be grabbed,
The things you can’t even imagine in your
Daddy’s-friend-wrote-my-recommendation-letter lives.
I’m building more than one hacienda in the clouds,
And each of them will stay aloft like circling hawks, rising higher, expanding, molting
New wings.”
No one remembers it, no one.
After a stunned, preppie silence,
Everyone returned to their Jello.

Eureka! Come quickly, Watson, I need you! I see stars!
An idea — Edison’s light bulb — pops above the head of the one refusing to face facts.
Those of us who believe it can be done draw the future in the air with our index fingers.
Just like Da Vinci, Edison, Ezekiel, Jefferson, Morse, Whitman, and Gates
Surely called it in some ponderous pool hall, “Eight ball, right corner pocket,” then watched the ball roll
Where commanded,
I’m calling it today:
That’s an egg. Leave it under a chicken, and you get another chicken.
Those onions you’re stomping on right now in the mud will be next spring’s tulips.
The man you’re killing right now will rise from the dead in three days.
That prisoner you are torturing will be your president before you’re eligible for a pension.
Those dozen mad scientists, badly dressed, unmoored unabombers,
Doctoring the headless, bodiless monster with the keyboard, they’ll run the world,
And that littlest pip-squeak on the photo’s edge will be the richest man in history.

No one remembers this, no one, but
You, you lucky castaway, I’ve been calling you each morning. Your name is on my list.
Perhaps you can’t hear me over the din of
The alarm clock that wakes you up for someone else’s workday, of
The conductor announcing the stop where that desk chair you fall into every
Monday waits sagging, of
The aerobics coach screaming orders as you remind yourself that sweating is good for you, of
The kettles whistling and the pipes whining in the lonely walls closing in around you.
Your name is on my list. No one remembers this, no one but me.
I look to the left, look to the right, look to the left again, sighing, wondering
Whether you’ll find me before the gang plank gets pulled up.

(Photo Credit: Microsoft)

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About the Contributor

Anne Babson

Anne Babson
Anne Babson's work has appeared in Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought, Christianity and Literature, Windhover, Dappled Things, The Penwood Review, and other journals of interest to Christians. She has organized literary readings, taught a writing workshop on writing poetry as a spiritual meditative practice and is currently teaching a course at a on how to write a Christian memoir. Her book, Poems Under Surveillance (2013), is published by Finishing Line Press and her first full-length collection, The White Trash Pantheon, will be published this year by Vox Press. 

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