The Smartphone by Yuan Changming

 At daybreak, my wife unplugs it from the charger

Puts it into her transparent bag & goes to work at YVR

In a hurry, playing with it whenever she can, the gadget

Of post modernity. Occasionally, back at home, I look at it

Feel tempted to unlock it & take a quick peep to see

How much more of a husband it is than me. She had wanted

Her own phone & was delighted when I gave her last year. & 

Since we’ve been married over thirty years, it seemed 

Like the right time for the gift of a smartphone. A compromise

With the helpless inertia and intricate boredom of marriage


But today I thought of my brother’s wife divorcing him

For failure to strike rich or climb up high. Not smart

Enough to function in her daily life, and much less useful

Than a preprogramed device. How powerful the way a phone

Stays more intimate with a human soul. 


                                                                                  My son is a senior

Engineer at the Apple, where he spends every minute

In front of a computer, trying to perfect a circuit for another 

iPhone to replace more husbandom (or wifedom) 


                                                                                 But I just 

Cannot unlock it. Everything she wishes from me has now been

Digitalized into this e.machine. With just a soft touch, she obtains

All she needs from a partner that, though non-breathing, proves 

Far more attractive than any living soul beyond the virtual reality 





Yuan Changming  published monographs on translation before leaving China. Currently, Yuan edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include ten Pushcart nominations, Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17) and BestNewPoemsOnline, among others.