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  #1  
Unread 06-03-2019, 06:59 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Default At a Social Security Office

A Lost Card

Why should it matter where a man was born or where he dies?
---Were he to come from the inmost ring of Saturn
or spent his youth on Plutoís moon, it would be a surprise.
---Or if heíd roamed the galaxies, a pattern

of mannerisms may emerge. But why are you so keen
---to know my birthplace just so I can get
a copy of my missing SS card? Do I look green?
---Do I have purple hair or silver sweat?

Am I a latent threat to suburb, town or state or nation?
---So what if I was born outside this land?
Iíve lost the form attesting to my naturalization,
---but do I have eight fingers on my hand?

Thatís right, I donít. Iíve seven. Want to see? Oh gosh, youíve fainted.
---Now that youíre down, Iíll stretch out my antennae
and scan your vital signs. Although weíve hardly been acquainted
---already youíve been spooked. My name is Benny

and, well, Iím not from Earth. In fact, I come from parts so far
---you couldnít even dream of such a span.
Yet all I hanker for is my replacement card. You are
---a stickler for the law. Yet Iím a man!

I see you are regaining consciousness. It pleases me.
---No need to fetch your phone. Is that a siren?
I have just one more thing to say to you before I flee:
---Duck before my shuttle crew starts firiní!
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  #2  
Unread 06-03-2019, 10:40 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Default O Solar Mio!

Cute, but first a question: Why would an alien want one of our SS Cards to begin with? The ending suggests he's fresh from outer space, covered by his UFO crew as he, what? stops for a smoothie? The logic or even fantasy possibility elude me. It's one of those days; another one on the board is flimsier than a moth wing, and it isn't mine. I'll bet you can clean up the premise.
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  #3  
Unread 06-03-2019, 11:32 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Hi Ralph,

Thanks for your thoughts!

Quote:
Cute, but first a question: Why would an alien want one of our SS Cards to begin with?
I see how the premise can seem rather vague, but I tried to give a couple of clues with these lines, where the “alien” says (in stanzas 2 and 3):

But why are you so keen
to know my birthplace just so I can get
a copy of my missing SS card?


I’ve lost the form attesting to my naturalization.

That means that the alien was once given an SS card (when he was naturalized) but he lost it. Now the SS office wants proof of his citizenship even though they should have a record of his SS number. So he gets angry and threatens them. (The threat becomes exaggerated and wacky since, after all, he's an alien.)

But it’s probably too small of a clue. Maybe there is a way for me to say that they do, in fact, have the number on record, but still refuse to give him a replacement card.

What I was trying to do with the poem, and apparently didn’t succeed, is to show how some governmental rules are silly and absurd. The way to show that would be for the office to admit they have his number on file, so his reaction (or overreaction) makes sense in the narrative. I’ll try to figure out how I can do it.

Thanks again for your feedback, Ralph.

Best,
Martin

Last edited by Martin Elster; 06-03-2019 at 11:39 PM.
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Unread 06-04-2019, 01:27 PM
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Martin,

Looking over the piece in a different mood, I see that my first take was wrong. I now think it works--and should be sent to The Poetry Pigeon's cosmic-themed issue.
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  #5  
Unread 06-04-2019, 01:54 PM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is online now
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RM

Two things. I absolutely understand why an alien from outer space would want a Social Security card, and I absolutely understand why the SS office demands some documentation, such as birth records, before issuing a replacement card. So, I am of two minds here.

Forced into one mind, I'd call this competently executed and playful. Science fiction lite verse.

RM
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  #6  
Unread 06-04-2019, 02:17 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Thanks, Ralph. Thatís good to hear. I was thinking of submitting some poems to that issue, but forgot, so thanks for reminding me! Iím trying to decide which ones to send. This could certainly be one of them. The only thing Iím not sure about is whether they want purely science-oriented poems or will they consider science fiction. I just sent them a query.

Thanks, Rick. Iím glad you enjoyed this ďliteĒ piece. Did the aliens travel faster than ďliteĒ? Hereí a limerick, which youíve probably heard, but for those who havenít ...

There was a young lady from Bright
who could travel far faster than light.
---She set out one day
---in a relative way
and returned on the previous night.

Last edited by Martin Elster; 06-04-2019 at 02:20 PM.
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  #7  
Unread 06-04-2019, 02:19 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Martin,

I was a little confused about what this poem is doing. Maybe it's making a socio-political point. Maybe it's simply sci-fi lite as Rick says.

In the first half, the N seems not to be an alien. So, up until the midway turn, I'm thinking 'alien' is a playing on 'immigrant'. Look, he says, I may be an alien (a non-American), but at least I'm not a bloody alien (extraterrestrial).

But then in the second half, he claims he is an extraterrestrial. Now at this point, I'm not sure if this a turn (he actually is an alien) or if he's employing sarcasm. It could be sarcasm, I guess, but I tend toward thinking he is genuinely extra-terrestrial. But then, he continues to insist the he is a man. So maybe he isn't an extraterrestrial. Or maybe seven-fingered beings from far galaxies warrant the name 'man' (though I think the term is usually reserved for humanity). Or maybe this is intended to echo of the claims of black and other minority groups? An echo of Martin Luther King's "Am I not a man?". Aliens are humans too? But this poem seems an odd context for that.

So, like I say. I get confused here.

All the best,

Matt
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  #8  
Unread 06-04-2019, 02:33 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Hi Matt,

Thanks for stopping by. I’d say you got the gist of the poem.

My main intention was, in fact, to make a socio-political point. More precisely, to make a point about how bureaucracies and state officials can often be sticklers for the rules. Even if a person already has an SS card, yet was born in another country and has lost his or her naturalization papers, then they are in deep doo-doo. That’s really what the poem is "about." The sci-fi aspects are meant to depict an exaggeration of the fellow’s mood. I guess maybe it’s not quite coming across to readers so far.

In other words, I’ve taken the man’s frustration to extremes and have him use sarcasm (I’m from another galaxy or the 3rd ring of Saturn) which then escalates into fantasy. I’m wondering if there are things I can do in the poem to lessen the confusion of who this guy really is, or clarify the context. Or maybe it’s OK to have him be an ambiguous character, both alien and human. I can’t decide just yet.

Best,
Martin
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