NaPoWriMo 4.3: You Can’t Look

peter_paul_rubens_-_hercules_and_cerberus_1636

“Let us get ourselves a pet…”

My, it’s getting late. Which might be why day three turned out quite so peculiarly (sorry not sorry). That’s my ‘excuse’ anyway.

I’d been meaning to write something about this news story for a while – and had the first couple of lines in my notebook. However,  I’d suggest reading this poem first, then looking at the news story – just to see what the effect is…

You Can’t Look*

In an instant, our faces became Bacon
smears skyward; the low hiss of moon-
sized fans on the horizon,
kaleidoscoping in. Our limbs
reformatting. Our skin
more river than bank.
These wind-up trainers
running for the train
our brains are on. Touch

will be the only sense
we need. We will grow
haptic trunks, feel the sky
smudging. Why wouldn’t I want
a burning tyre for a mind?

For my body to slide
out of resolution, the icon
slipping from my swimsuit?

Let us take a holiday
from our abdomens.
Let us get ourselves a pet
that is Cerberus with a third
off. Let us be only half
but the half which
grasps
beer. For our feet
will no longer touch
the ground, for neither

is ours, and neither
is here.

* NB: I asked the Jabberwacky chatbot: “What should I title this poem?”
It answered “You can’t look you don’t have eyes…”

And just then, when I told it, “Thank you, that’s perfect”, it replied:

“Nothing in this world is perfect.”

So far, so Neuromancer

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Poetry School Microcommission: First Report

Shaun’s response to a government report on Innovation…

There’s a quick update on The Poetry School Microcommission project, ‘Chainmail’, that I’m doing just now – you can read it here. Some really interesting work being produced; most looking forward to seeing the projects’ outcomes – and ours!

Email-as-art-form isn’t without its challenges! We’re a diasporic (yes it’s a word) team, across Bristol (where I am), London (where Luke and Rach are), Manchester (where Neil is / is off gallivanting) and finally in Orkney (to where Shaun has just moved and been rather foxed by BT’s failure to connect broadband). I’m the common point with the other participants, who I hope will get to know each other well through this work, and my main focus as the ‘nodal point’ has been ensuring these strangers all feel safe to experiment, take risks and just have fun with emailing.

The Poetry School Microcommission: Chainmail

We got one of the Lo! and Behold Microcommissions from The Poetry School!

Mine was one of five projects fortunate enough to receive a ‘microcommission’ from The Poetry School’s Lo! and Behold scheme, announced at the end of January.

Our project is called Chainmail (for Nicky Morgan) and will comprise a series of creative email ‘chains’ between me, Shaun Gardiner, and three friends from across engineering, parasitology and cyber-security.

The title directly addresses Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, who last year made some rather divisive remarks about the Arts and STEM subjects (Science, Tech, Engineering and Maths) in education, placing the two in (what I view as) a false binary, unhelpful for everyone.

So rather than ranting, we’re practising what we preach and communicating ‘across the lines’ to learn more about our different disciplines, to generate new poetry, drawings and ideas that straddle the false Arts/Science binary. And maybe we’ll send Nicky a copy at the end, to see what she makes of it…

It’s only just revving-up now, so once we’ve spent some quality time errantly emailing, the outcomes will start to be polished and put out there in springtime.

More to follow on where the work created will pop up, but my hope is that there will be some joyous muddling-up of the Arts and STEM, with cyber-security sketchings, parasitology poetry and engineering ekphrasis. Who knows…

NaPoWriMo 2.7: Love Song of the Goblin

The dream home of Tomorrow, in which you might find the Goblin…

It’s a two-poem day as my brain was too fried yesterday…The other (today’s) will appear later.

So, catching up with yesterday’s prompt to write a love poem to a thing, here’s my offering. It ended up quite long, so if you can stick it out – thank you, there is a ‘pay off’ and I appreciate any constructive suggestions for cuts or other edits! 🙂

 

Love Song of the Goblin

 

Such Integration:

where before, we poor

humans had to lumber through

the morning chore of tea

production, in a number

of discrete actions:

no more.

 

Such Automation:

for now, the boiling water

of morning is poured on to the teabag

of your dreams, even before

your fleshy eyelids

have flickered.

 

Sentinel of The Modern Day:

you begin your boiling ways

at precisely the allotted tick.

As we kick off our fluffy

heads and robes, gliding

into one (of two) myopically

chrome and out-damn-spot

clean family cars.

 

Such Illumination:

dissatisfied with the distant

Sun, you add your cheery

and alarming glow to the throes

of a dawn chorus of factory-produced

daylight. Springing up, along the branch

that Britain was, alert to promotion, bonus

cash. Growing on the map like a gorgeous,

bioluminescent rash.

 

Such Reanimation:

now, in pixelated times, we save up

the promise stored in your recklessly

un-energy-efficient bulbs. Half a century

– no, more – from your peak, we keep you here

(though there is scarcely space) for the idea

that there is use in you. For moments, you rejoin

the Gleaming Highway of Time. When we children

of another century, want the ambience for a birthday

do just right. We put our ear to you for a tick,

or a Frankenstein fizz of electricity. From time

to time, we invite you, nervously,

to join us at the party,

as a light.

 

 

Addendum: here is the actual sort that we have on our shelf, as a light (and never, ever a tea-making device)…

 

A 1959-60 Goblin Teasmade, like the one we have on the shelf (and for which I have a curious affection).

 

NaPoWriMo 23: A Triolet for Entropy

The Universe loves things to get more disordered. (So most of us fit right in – We Are Stardust!)

I’m running on a slightly altered NaPoWriMo timetable, or flexi-time, if you will: there’s a Welcome and a Blessing brewing for Sunday, from earlier prompts. But as I’ve slightly stumbled on these – and am going to return to them – I thought I’d try out a triolet from today’s NaPoWriMo prompt.

Looking around for some inspiration, I found this article about entropy and intelligence – which slightly blew my mind. In essence, this is about the idea that the Universe tends towards a more disordered state – and that by applying this idea to some models, they become analogous to what happens when ‘intelligent’ beings are involved. That we, as intelligent (supposedly) beings, are also inherently entropic. Apparently, even the evolution of walking may be relevant in this system. Roll on the bedlam!

I think that’s what it means, anyway. Although I suggest you read it yourself, as the reporter clearly knows what they’re talking about a lot more than this poet.

And to celebrate this un-knowledge of our inherent entropy, I wrote an orderly triolet…

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NaPoWriMo 14: I AM ANTI-BOTNET

An infographic of how a Botnet works…I’d like to see an infographic of my ANTI-BOTNET. Anyone?

Tasked with creating a ‘persona poem’ yesterday (with the suggestion of a superhero). So I started trolling the internet for some inspiration – and came across this story from today, which I found simultaneously interesting, amusing and alarming.

WordPress (which hosts this very site) has been ‘attacked’ by a ‘Giant Botnet’ of some thousands of linked computers since last week – and this may have been a pre-cursor to a much larger attack (a ‘Mega Botnet’?)…When thinking, then, about a superhero – I thought we (WordPress users, many of whom will be using it to share their NaPoWriMo efforts) could do with the ANTI-BOTNET.

Last month, I went to the Leeds Trinity Writers’ Festival Day and we did a workshop on the ‘Techno-Poem’. This seemed such a rich thread of techno-speak, -images and -ideas, I thought… HERE COMES THE ANTI-BOTNET (WHO ALWAYS SPEAKS IN CAPITALS).

BE WARNED, READER – THIS ONE IS VERY VERY SILLY:

 

I AM ANTI-BOTNET

or, http://www.IFEARNOTHING.infinity/forever/BAM

 

I AM ANTI-BOTNET. FROM WITHIN THE

NETWORK’S SPACES, I EMERGE: FROM THE

DARKLING ROBOT’S SHADOW, I WILL SURGE

INTO THE NETWORK PROTOCOLS

OF YOUR TECHNO-SOUL.

 

I AM ANTI-BOTNET AND NO MALICIOUS

SOFTWARE THREATENS ME. NO IRC

CAN CHAT ITS WAY THROUGH

THE INTERNET RELAY SUITE

OF MY CYBER-MIND.

 

I AM ANTI-BOTNET AND MY CAPS-LOCK

IS FOREVER ON: ZOMBIE-COMPUTERS

FEAR THE ENCRYPTION OF MY CRY;

THE SPAMDEX-NETQUAKE OF MY ROAR.

I CODE FEAR IN TO SKYNET,

YES – EVEN TERMINATOR.

 

I AM ANTI-BOTNET AND NO BOT-HERDER

USHERS ME TOWARDS DESTINY.  MY

ALMIGHTY ALGORITHMS SELF-ARISE

IN THE SILICONE-STEELY SOLIDITY

OF MY BILLION-BILLION-WEBCAM EYES.

NaPoWriMo 10: Un-love Poem for Call-Centre Conversations

The battery-farming of conversation, in the form of a call centre.

Day 10’s prompt was to write a poem of un-love; not a malediction, so much, but just a poem of ennui (that’s how I read it) about someone, or something.

It so happens that I spent quite a bit of time doing a transfer from one credit card to another today, as well as spending some time on the phone to a large mobile phone company. While the people I spoke to were perfectly polite and proficient, there is something really jarring about that stop-start scripted version of a conversation you have to have with them. Generally, I like people and enjoy meeting new humans; finding out how surprising and unusual people can be. But there’s no sponaneity when you have to speak to  (some, not all) call centres or worse, there’s very little humanity about those types of interaction.

You’re both becoming a part of a process, elements in a mechanised version of a conversation, with niceties wedged in here and there as WD-40 (that’s a type of lubricating oil for machines, non-British readers!) to make it seem less robotic…I should know, I’ve worked in call centres myself – although I don’t think it was ever going to be a long-term prospect (I tended to deviate from the script too much).

(By the way, I called it ‘Going Forward’ as one chap I spoke to said it about ten times – it’s a real politician’s phrase that, ‘Going Forward’ – as opposed to what? Going back in time? Or does it mean ‘Moving forward’, progressing, in some way? It means, I fear, very little.)

So here’s a poem about it:

 

Going Forward

or, Transference

 

** Our staff are currently both

at present engaged in

dealing with the customer

enquiries of other clients **

 

Can I just confirm your name, Mr Parkin,

Sir, Mr Parking, sir, yes, of yourself, sir?

And the 16-digit number, sir, the 3-digit figure

tattoed on your face and the date

your number is up? Going forward, Mr Parken, sir,

we just wanted to ask, before the transfer

some questions about your circumstances, if we may,

if I may, on behalf of ourselves, to yourself?

 

We’d like, Mr Perkin, to discuss

the finer points and repercuss-

ions of your over-

spending, Mr Parkan,

sir,

we’d like it if we

could just go over

a few things,

for yourself,

from ourselves,

to perform the script

tautologically,

repeatedly, with

zero per cent

interest,

to say nothing

for fifty years,

to  itemise the

Terms and

Conditioning.