Maintenance Call

4 Poyner illo

     Ken Poyner

Maintenance Call


My wife needs a new socket.

Everyday, as soon as she gets home,

She goes directly into the closet

And absent-mindedly plugs herself in.

She tells me it is part of the contract.

Sometimes she can be connected

Half an hour for a maintenance routine,

Two minutes for a new social process,

Fifteen minutes of fixes

To last month’s upgraded

Operating System. It is


Annoying. And sometimes


She has to reboot, with her inescapable

Self-diagnostics giving her the fidgets–

Often for most of our evening and into

Recharge. I persist. We have had

Conversations she cannot remember

When she was caught in a lengthy

Download stream. And I admit:

We even had sex

While she was plugged into Central.

Trust me, an uplink closet is no place

For a man my age to get

Athletic. I explained

That she should find a better time for this:

When I sleep, or when there are

Some really good college games

Backlogged on the video. In her

Micro-chip mind, the priority order is

Work, download, me;

But that is not how I see our equation.


This time I could not throttle my temper

And I smacked that uplink plug

So hard that I counteracted its

Evil, self-centered geometry,

And left that multi-pinned home wrecker

Thoroughly unusable.


Well, she has been going wireless ever since

And that is even slower.


So, do you think you can send out

A maintenance technician and give my wife’s

Busted socket a good going over?

I am sure she will need a new one

But I could be wrong, and maybe

A little tweaking will get this one

Back up and willing

Though nothing I have in my book of skills

Will put any remedy into it.


Can I schedule a time?


Then, on the day of your visit,

I will be sure to turn her off,

Carry myself down to the pub,

And complain with the other husbands

About the troubles this model of wife

Can make for an unprepared man.

During that time, you can have

With her

All the unlimited access

The work required might need.

And when you are through, set

The alert and quietly let yourself out.

I will wait a while, come home

Late enough so that she had

Uploaded all that she could possibly hold.

And, mercifully, perhaps then

I can be her only data point.


Ken Poyner’s latest collection of short, wiry fiction, Constant Animals, and his latest collection of surprising poetry, Victims of a Failed Civics, can be obtained from Barking Moose Press at, or Amazon at, or from Sundial Books at He often serves as strange, bewildering eye-candy at his wife’s power lifting affairs. His poetry of late has been sunning in Analog, Asimov’s, Poet Lore, The Kentucky Review; and his fiction has yowled in Spank the Carp, Red Truck, Café Irreal, Bellows American Review.



Editor’s Notes: Image: “Poster Robots” by Michael Coghlan

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