. The Tech Addict’s Lament As I take one more hit of electronic cocaine, I snort a fresh shot of noise into my brain And feel the cacophony’s endless refrain Charging at me like a runaway train. I collapse on the floor, and I think, “What a drain! I’d love to walk out, and I’d love to abstain, But the slowness of real-space seems flat and mundane.” So, I’m tied to the tech with a thick iron chain. . . Ballad of the Video-Game Hero I rode in a mine cart, back home from the land __Of my favorite video game, Through the pixelized prairie and vast seas of sand, __Over rivers of lava and flame. The hero sat there in the rickety cart __Staring off into pixel-sky space, Much older than on the game cartridge’s art, __With tears on his wide, wrinkled face. “I’m leaving and never returning,” he said. __“Come listen and hear my sad story. The princess and I, we hoped someday to wed, __Way back in the days of my glory. “The dragon would kidnap the princess, then I __Would run through an obstacle course To his minions’ dark castles in mountains up high __And take back their strongholds by force. “My princess was in the last castle I’d raid; __I always found treasures to haul. The Kingdom would welcome me with a parade __And a sumptuous banquet for all. “But after some years, the dragon found ways __To undermine me and my quest. He gave up the tactic of ‘pillage and raze’— __Bribed the people with treasure-filled chests! “My princess then fell for the dragon’s top minion; __The Kingdom surrendered the war And exiled me out of the dragon’s dominion— __They don’t want to be saved anymore!” We came to my world, and we sealed up the gate __To the land of his video game. My world is secured from his land’s tragic fate, __But I’m worried for us just the same. For evil has bribed all the people here, too, __With shiny new gadgets galore. No more do they care for what’s good and what’s true— __They don’t want to be saved anymore! . . One-Man Duet There’s a musician on the ’Net With himself in a duet. On the screen, the doubled fellow Plays both violin and cello. To viewers, it would thus appear That he’s two players, like we hear. First he played the violin, Recorded it with his machine, Then played his cello, harmonized With silent notes, all mechanized— No soul, no mind behind what brings A faithful echo of his strings. While playing both the parts alone, Recording selfies on his phone, He knows bowed instruments are made With other people to be played. What kind of world must he abide, Where no one’s playing at his side? . . Joshua C. Frank works in the field of statistics and lives near Austin, Texas.