The Future Is Now ... And Then

I once had a job writing fortune cookies for an adult fortune-cookie factory in San Francisco for $5 a fortune, and I got to say things like, "You owe me $100," or "Read this twice, you still won't understand it."

Not all of this wisdom went into cookies, and since I wasn't going to write things like, "The wise man counts his blessings," I quit and stuck to poetry, which pays nothing, but keeps its dignity. I could now say things like, "The Happy Man Needs No Prose," and while this is patently untrue, I can always say, "I told you so" in time.

The last fortune cookie I got said, "You will know the future in time," which I always suspected. The truth is that time will make truth irrelevant because by the time you find it, you won't have any feelings about it. About truth, I mean. Time is truth and there is no truth in time, as John Keats never said, but time-keeper is the best job you can have. This is my job; I'm a watch with feelings.

The truth is also that the fortune cookies I didn't write had as much truth in them as the ones I did write. You just had to think about them more.

When I first started writing, every poet wanted to be profound. Then every poet tried hard not to be profound, and that was a lot harder. Now, in the future, profound is everywhere, in every fortune cookie and commercial, so there is considerably less pressure on poets — except to make money, of course, but to make money you must use prose. It's like they say about the president: running is poetry, governing is prose.

Me, I just run: I'm so poetic I date all my letters 2010 already, and sometimes even 2011 and 2012.

I just don't e-mail them. So, in time, you'll find a stash of my letters dated in the future that will be well past by the time you find them, and they'll say things like, "I told you so," or "If you say that again it will be a quote."

Happy New Year!

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