Planned Obsolescence


Nature meant us to have just a few decades, time enough
for puberty and propagation and seeing the kids safely
onto a soccer team before we were eaten by a giant kangaroo,
saber-toothed cat, or fellow primate, or more slowly felled
by dengue fever or gingivitis. She could not have anticipated
sewer systems, antibiotics, sterile operating rooms, or
the many and varied uses we would put to the buried
remains of ancient life. Who could have guessed how many
of us would live long enough to die of natural causes,
to experience that closing cascade of systemic organ failure,
surrounded by loved ones and our collection of porcelain
corgis? Surely she must be appalled at the sight of our octo-
and nonagenarians dancing to Johnny Mathis, walker-to-walker
with the other residents of the Shangri-La Assisted Living
Senior Hospitality Center and Make-Your-Own froYo Bar.
Still, there goes my neighbor Norman, who made it on TV
for turning a hundred last year, and who, early in the morning
of every school day, dresses in his cargo shorts and high-vis
safety vest and walks down the street to the busiest crossing
in front of the elementary school, where he guides pods
of impatient human young across the street, telling them
to slow down, stop swearing, watch out for cars and zip up
their damn coats if they don’t want to catch their deaths.

Planned Obsolescence by C. Wade Bentley

Photo used under CC.


About Author


Wade lives, teaches, and writes in Salt Lake City. His poems have appeared in many journals, including Best New Poets, Rattle, Cimarron Review, Poetry Northwest, Poetry Daily, The American Journal of Poetry, and Southwest Poetry Review. A full-length collection, What Is Mine, was published by Aldrich Press in January of 2015. Further information about his publications and awards can be found at

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