Sunday, October 4, 2009

College Mornings: A Poem or C.P.E.

In the mists of time, I was a student. It was the late 1980s, and I was terrible at it. I was studying computer science at The University of Lowell (which has now eroded into UMass: Lowell), and failing because I spent all of my time either studying things that had nothing to do with class or playing roleplaying games with friends. They were heady days of learning C and Unix while getting myself in trouble with anyone who would pay attention. I found myself reminiscing about it this weekend, and suddenly it seemed to form a poem, so here goes:
4 AM blurring, swimming monochrome before me.
Not bright enough to learn, too bright not to.
To hack in C, shell and Perl all I know.
What rough beast, the nacent Internet swims before me.
Forces gather while I, in key-click slumber
Drift toward rocky shoals of dot-com intrigue.
But innocent, I type; one more demo tweak
Before a dawnlight shuffle home.
Well, there it is. I'm no Cummings, but I hope it was worth a moment of your time to look back with me.


  1. dot com intrigue seems to be an anachronism. I would be surprised if the term were that common in the late 80s, as academia is .edu and anything interesting outside of that was likely on a .gov or .mil .com

    nacense internet also seems retroactive.

    Come clean. When did you really write this? Have you rewritten it in the interim?

  2. I seem to have miscommunicated. I wrote this poem with the post (on my iPhone, mostly, on the way back from a trip to Harvard Square). It's entirely retrospective, hence the statement, "I found myself reminiscing about it this weekend, and suddenly it seemed to form a poem."

    Anyway, yes, the .com domain space was pretty sparse compared to today, but there were quite a few by then. Take a look at some of the hosts.txt files that are archived around the Web. SRI.COM, BBN.COM, DEC.COM, Xerox.COM and Unisys.COM were all pretty huge at that time. But yes, I was referring to the events that would affect me and my peers in the mid-to-late 90s and into the early 00s.