Tuesday, May 9, 2017

THE POEM THAT CHANGED THE WORLD


It started innocently enough,
a white screen, a thought, leading to an image
accumulating into words
(she thought of rain clouds forming)
the syllables counted, the line skipped
rhythm added (she thought of sidewalk puddles)
and a clever rhyme about New Year’s Day
that made her smile with
hope for better tomorrows
tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
(kind of clich├ęd, she knew, but it didn’t matter
it felt right for the time of year), she
a junior in university
emailed what she’d typed to her list of friends,
(mostly acquaintances)
with wishes for health and happiness,
and it was read and deleted by most,
but two messages slipped through and
were forwarded to their contact list
and two more were forwarded to theirs
and this went on for weeks
the forwards multiplying virally
through blog links, Facebook sharing and Tweets
and someone posted it on YouTube
accompanied by images pilfered from the web
and a song by Taylor Swift used without permission,
and it got hits and hits galore, millions
and a hundred million and a book deal
(like Sh*t My Dad Says)
that was a New York Times Bestseller
and a film option from Hollywood
and a logo and a phrase that became a clothing line
and the President quoted it
in his re-election campaign speech
and it was translated into forty-two languages
including Swahili, Mongolian, and Ojibwa
and it got its own Wikipedia page
and school children all around the world
committed it to memory
for a while.

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