—from A Gallery of Ethopaths* The computer is a simple tool— It cannot change an arrant fool Into a brilliant, thoughtful scholar, Although the damned thing costs top-dollar. It cannot help someone to write Whose prose is just a total blight Nor delineate a topic For someone naturally myopic. It cannot give poetic insight To someone with a mental dim-light. People who say the thing “inspires” Are brain-dead, ethopathic liars— You might as well say that a quill Gave Shakespeare intellect and will To write his sonnets, pen his plays, Or inkwells spouted Shelley’s lays, Or that old Vergil’s iron stylus Taught him the words that still beguile us. Do you attribute skill to Dante Because he had some parchment handy? And yet you think a P.C.’s blinking Helps to develop human thinking, Or that a “Spell-Check” is a boon To some illiterate buffoon Who has no style, no grace, no credence, And can’t keep track of antecedents. Persons who know computers well Have no use for the hyped-up sell That cyber-freaks are ever spouting. They say that, beyond all doubting, Computer software can’t imbue A booby with a new I.Q. For if you are a stupid schmuck Computers cannot change your luck, And if your mental level’s zero Computers won’t make you a hero. Consult the experts once again— It’s true with P.C.s as with men. This maxim holds, without a doubt: That garbage in means garbage out. So don’t tell me because you got a Mackintosh your prose is hotter; Or that you now can write like Pinter Because you have a laser printer. Don’t confuse things instrumental With matters that are elemental. Great art comes from those fair Muses Crackling through your psychic fuses And not through microchips and wire Sold at prices ever higher. This is a myth to make gods chortle: That simple circuitry’s immortal— A thing believed by addlepates, Weirdos, morons, or Bill Gates. *Poet's Note: A Gallery of Ethopaths is an epic-length satire, now coming to completion, and being readied for full publication. Over thirty sections of it have already been published in various journals. The meaning of the word ethopathy can be understood from my article on this coinage at aman.members.sonic.net/salemi.html Joseph S. Salemi has published five books of poetry, and his poems, translations and scholarly articles have appeared in over one hundred publications world-wide. He is the editor of the literary magazine Trinacria. He teaches in the Department of Humanities at New York University and in the Department of Classical Languages at Hunter College.