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If you believe everything is data, a pulsing sphere of inputs and outputs feeding off each other—circumstance being both the mold and what is molded—an act of Terrorism (that constant), however gratuitous, must be considered a kind of natural disaster, as it is, at base, a release, from the system, of a tension built by the rubbing together of opposite and incongruous desires.
   One birthday, ever the Protestant, I decided I should remind myself the world suffered while I celebrated, so I downloaded the lead New York Times photo—an Iraqi woman crying over the charred spot where her boy had perished—and let it devastate me for a while.
    Now it’s stored with my other image files—paintings I like, photos from bars, etc.—and like them, it comes up sometimes on my screensaver.
   I’m so used to it now, I barely see it anymore—the charred spot like a brushstroke, her white teeth above the black O of her open mouth. The scene floats by without charge; the shock of it used up when? That first day?
   (My life consumed by itself, myself, my data. My dataset, my healthy dataset—)
   When the photo comes up with guests over and someone notices, I use the occasion to anecdote about my Midwestern/Protestant guilt-ethic.
   Oh and we laugh. We laugh for what seems ages.

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Published in Devin Becker Poems

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