Digital Impasse

Digital Impasse
By Madeleine Begun Kane

My brain is packed with secret codes
To access all my stuff,
Like bank accounts and sundry cards.
Recalling them is rough.

I pay my bills online and need
A PIN for each of those.
My website has a password too,
Protecting verse and prose.

These letters, numbers, symbols mix
In ways to stave off theft.
We’re warned to make them quite complex,
Defeating hackers deft.

We’re also cautioned, “Vary them.
Don’t make your codes the same.
A thief gets hold of only one —
You’re screwed and you’re to blame.”

So ciphers clutter up my mind.
I dare not write them down.
With paper bearing secrets dear,
A thief could go to town.

I’m forced to hide them in my brain —
A codified morass,
Despite my fear that one day soon
They’ll flee my mind en masse.

(Prompted by secrets at Poets United.)

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28 Responses to “Digital Impasse”

  1. Stan Ski says:

    I remember a time when the only ‘secret’ word was ‘please’…

  2. Madeleine,

    A truly wonderful piece of writing, which demonstrates the modern pain of observing secrecy!


  3. Yes, and now we know that Apple has been keeping track of all the “secrets” you have tried so hard to keep under wraps on our iPhones. We can protect ourselves from each other, but who is going to protect us from them?

  4. Kim Nelson says:

    Oh, how you elucidate on modern fate!

  5. Humorous, and I so relate – I’ll be screwed if I ever forget them!!! Bound to happen!

  6. Teri C says:

    I love this, and I do write them all down, and big trouble when I can’t find the book holding the codes.
    We sure make life complicated.

  7. Mr. Walker says:

    Wasn’t technology supposed to make things easier for us? I’m not sure the computers are serving us or we’re serving them.

  8. amanda moore says:

    Mad. This the story of my life but I have to write it dowm! This is so cute different from your usual form I loved it!

  9. madkane says:

    Thanks everyone for your kind comments. I’m so glad you could relate to this. :)

  10. Isabel Doyle says:

    and then you freeze with the wrong pin or the wrong code and everything falls apart – great fun piece that we can all relate to

  11. madkane says:

    Thanks, Isabel. Oh yes, the deep freeze. :)

  12. David says:

    A very modern madness.

  13. trisha says:

    power of human brain amazes me too. its a miraculous thing.

  14. Madeleine says:

    Brilliant! I hope you neevr forget them. Best to keep a backup record locked away somewhere though :O)

  15. scott says:

    a codified morass indeed. Great work Mad!

  16. madhumakhi says:

    Secret codes known only to us, or so we think until a wicked hacker from somewhere gives us a reality check. Or codes that elude us by escaping our minds ‘en masse’. We all face that problem. Well written.

  17. i feel you…i have started writing everything down!

  18. hansi says:

    Good one. That’s why I’ve tattooed all my passwords on my left forearm.

  19. lolamouse says:

    I love it! My husband always tells me that my passwords are too easy, but I can’t remember the ones he chooses, so I have to write them down somewhere!

  20. lucychili says:

    i used to remember phone numbers
    now passwords =)

  21. Mad, this resonates with all of us. Believe it or not, all mine are in a Rolodex beside my computer. When I’m on the road, I forsake the computer (and have not moved to “Laptopia” yet), so I just wait ’til I get home.

    GREAT poem, Madeleine, love your warmth, your humor, and your self-deprecation, which is quite endearing. Amy
    Reflections On Laundry

  22. Matty says:

    Another brilliant gem.

    I keep my codes upstairs too, and heaven help me if I ever forget them.

  23. Andy says:

    Brilliantly done, Madeleine.

  24. Poetjanstie says:

    This is such a good poem, Mad. Judging by the many comments above, it’s more than apposite. User IDs and passwords are part of the ‘machinery’ of modern life and can sometimes be, like computers that break down, a major obstruction to the creative process!

  25. madkane says:

    Thanks so much to all of you for your enthusiastic comments!

  26. vivienne blake says:

    I forget them all the time. Last time I was in UK I used my French bank account PIN for my English one, blocked the card, and so was without money until I could get it unblocked – ironically, this didn’t happen until I was back in France and didn’t need it!

  27. PS I should have said how brilliant I thought your poem is!

  28. madkane says:

    Thanks so much Vivienne! I can’t even bear to contemplate having to keep track of PINS from two different countries. :)