The Valley of Disquiet
The Valley of Disquiet is where I
want to be. Unhinged, blathering, a man
in search of his brain. Neither robot nor
human, I would be a machine with face
of plastic, servos for muscles, and soul
of titanium. “I love you,” I say,
inside a room of furniture and rugs.
Being all human hasn’t worked out well.
Heartache, failure, arguing are daily.
Nothing works: the refrigerator shakes
shudders, and dies. Then I will die also.
Everything dies, even love. If I was
a robot at least I could be repaired
in a shop with spare parts and a fresh new
battery. I smile, a rectangular
glimpse at my silver teeth. I speak,
male or female, take your pick in Settings.
Software choices: right wing, moderate, left
wing; personality: jock, nerd, preacher.
There are so many advantages in
The Valley of Disquiet, where the graph does
plunge from machine with wheels and knobs to all
humans with tears and kisses. Real humans
grow uneasy when a robot looks like
a human, speaks like a human, and lies
like a human. They do shake in their shoes
when a human blinks too fast, jerks his neck,
turns with an inappropriate comment,
and they realize, know he is a robot.
Fooled, mapped by the silver smile of a droid.
That’s what I want. I want to live on in
the V of The Valley of Disquiet.
I am coming back from a white plain, plain
as death but with blowing snow, white waves on
white, with white birds, white foxes, whitish pain
to this room with black frames holding men gone
to Deathland where I long to be. I long
to be the photographs of me, flat, bordered,
in color, framed. That one in a kayak
fighting rapids on a river, the waves
splashing all but my eyes and my hands
grabbing the paddle. That one with my smile
standing on the Great Wall, at home in lands
where I have never been, only. My wife
throws the photos into the trash, and I
am truly dead, memories, DNA
on a doorknob or two in brick buildings
where I sat on the debtor sides of desks
applying for eternity, or a
thirty-year mortgage, or love that fades
into no doting, cabernet decay
to dry lips, then my love’s fire trades
my struggles to the used bookstore for self-
help from gurus who charge for writing
positively. When I die, I will be
deleted even from the server so.
There is color on this wall before me,
red and pink in frames, flamingoes and trains.
I am back from Antarctica for now,
but before I do die I must fade to pail.
David Flynn was born in the textile mill company town of Bemis, TN. His jobs have included newspaper reporter, magazine editor and university teacher. He has five degrees and is both a Fulbright Senior Scholar and a Fulbright Senior Specialist with a recent grant in Indonesia. His literary publications total more than 240. He lives in Nashville, TN.