Individual Work
Meditation on a Bar Stool

Natalie Zeriff’s “Meditation on a Bar Stool” is a meditative poem presented in Flash. The poem unfolds a few words at a time against a soft, light-blue sky background with white clouds. The speaker, as stated in the last two lines, is presumably sitting at a bar with a beer next to a girl who is smoking her cigarette as she recites a mediation poem. The words to the mediation are the bulk of the poem that appear on the screen one line at a time and disappear to present the following lines. The user does not have to direct the poem, but simply watch the words appear in a slow rhythm.

Soft, staccato Asian music plays in the background to set a calming, sharp-minded feel, playing into the piece’s meditative theme. The poem opens with a light burst on the right of the page where the prophetic words appear as holy messages. The shadow of the author’s profile, who is wearing a Buddhist hat, faces the words that slowly appear on the screen. This shadow is most likely Buddha, who wrote the words that the narrator says his girl friend speaks to him. His instructions for the meditation are to be mindful of the “life and death of breath.” The life, as assumed by the white text it appears in, seems to be the air one breathes in, and the death, written in black text, seems to be what takes the air out. The word “death” grows on the screen as the background fades to black and the shadows of the person disappears. When “of breath” appears, the background comes back into view and the focus zooms to one cloud, signifying breath.

The steps in the meditation are to think “nothing” (clearing one’s mind), “practice patience” (to keep a steady mind flow as the poem has a steady rhythm), and “breathe” to your steady, calm rhythm that your heart achieves during meditation. While watching the clip, the reader can feel the emotion that the meditation instructs as they must read the words in a rhythmic pattern presented in forms that invoke emotions of silence, the excitement of life, and relaxation. Zeriff shows how a meditation must have rhythm and simplicity with the purpose of cleansing one’s mind.