I immediately gravitated towards “Ask Me for the Moon,” by John David Zuern. Anything regarding the night sky enchants me and reminds me of this quote by Zara Ventris, “I am a child of the Moon being raised by the Sun in a world walked by stars and a sky drawn with flowers.”
As I begin my journey, there appeared a black screen again, now is this a pattern I am noticing about Electronic Literature, or do authors prefer a black background? To think about it, if I created my own E-LIT piece, I would undeniably use a black background. Black just gives the work a mysterious feeling, not knowing whether the piece will be dark, complex, simple, or rich.
White letters appear on the pitch-black screen, fading in and out, making it hard to read, because they disappear so quickly. Still, each word I read is beautiful, to say the least, “Waikiki by night, out to see the moon, this is what you see…” and then what you see is described “Of hope and work, castles in the sand, palaces of purchased love, troves of stolen sleep.” I love that, the short snippet that I did catch of the poem reminded me of my trip to Jamaica last summer, the beautiful beaches and resorts, where we go to enjoy, but it is not a vacation for the people who live and work there. I remember talking to one of the tour guides, and he said we don’t want out children going to school; we want them to find a job so one day they can work up to a job at a resort and or be a tour guide.
As the poem comes to an end, Waikiki’s skyline appears on the black screen. It isn’t colorful like one would have imagined, but black and grey, metaphorically portraying the loss of sleep and the hard-work the people endure. At the bottom of the skyling, a college of photos appear, three of which spell Waikiki, one has an image of a palm tree, and the last one shows a photograph of waves with a person standing before the waves. As you browse through each image, you can hear something along the lines of a person breathing heavily, or is it the sound of waves? I believe it was the sound of breath because the word breath was used plenty in the poems.
As you click each image, it takes you to a place with more photos. This is when the reader becomes independent, we get to choose our own path and navigate through the pictures and turquoise words. As I click, I see more white words appear, smaller poems that turn into larger pieces of text pieces. Zuern captures his essential ideas of his work in these more extensive texts; in one, I learned about the Hawaii culture and how the state maintains rights over the Hawaiian people and their culture. I also learned how the beaches we Americans so wholesomely enjoy are restricted to the Hawaiian locals. We discover the dark truth about workers’ lives behind Waikiki’s resorts through the poems and texts. We are constantly reminded about the hard work the locals do at night to maintain the resorts us tourists enjoy.
I love this piece; I was a little annoyed though, because I couldn’t go back to the poems; they moved so quickly, very swiftly, the words morphed into one another, one line I caught that I love, went something like this, “Will you shelter me the way I shelter you, Does the world belong to us as the moon does?”