Ode to the GPS

Ode to the GPS
July 11, 2009

It’s difficult to think of inventions
that don’t in the long run,
make life worse, rather than better.

Sure, I suppose they’re used
to call down missile strikes,
so it’s not all roses and ponies.

Since the invention of the road,
men have been plagued by the terror
of getting lost.
Being lost, itself, isn’t so bad,
at least not from the vantage point
of being found again, laughing
about it over a pint of ale.
But while you’re there,
it’s pretty awful.

Yes, because you have to admit
that you don’t know.

Now, with this marvel,
this chunk of metal and plastic,
smaller than a breadbox,
talking to the stars,
I am freed —
liberated to get lost
without having to admit to it.
Freed to wander far from
the so-called-free-way,
which binds you to the path
most travelled.
Free to explore those roads
where one might imagine
real people living,
sitting on their porches,
sipping lemonade while the stars
come out and the crickets
scream into the night.

Drive past corn and soy,
soy and corn,
more corn, more soy,
interspersed by fields where
someone’s parents are planted
deep in the earth,
driving slowly enough
to read their names.