Happy cell phone users, smiling all,
in inverse ratio to their privacy.
Now we seek, not shun, the public ear,
to remind it how surely
our lives are elsewhere.
Elsewhere we shrink from human contact,
push buttons to interact with recorded messages,
fly to TV walls as though we were homeless,
dial our bets, electro-feed pets,
download Stan Getz.
A late gatecrasher at the info feast,
postmodern Mammon gnaws methodically
on internet backbone, sucks at the marrow
of the invisible giant that makes us free:
to shop without stores,
buy without money,
work with no colleagues,
surf without waves,
enjoy sex minus skin touch,
find homes for our multiple personalities,
enrich the word “virtual”
with a new meaning: false.
Our computers quicken their dumb calculations
each time we buy. Our four-wheeled friends,
informed by the upper echelons of satellite protection,
tell us where we are, while
nano-technocrats conserve the homeostasis
of our homes and bodies, minds and soil.
As postmodern slips
into something less comfortable,
technology’s cutting edges
slash all ways,
undermine our cloned beliefs,
diminish the self,
exalt the ego.
To avoid the fate of Tippoo Sahib,
let us study the tiger’s ways:
neither worship nor destroy it.
Instead, ride it masterfully.
Published in Mélange, Vol. 2, No. 4, 2000.
A sea-washed flint front;
door hangs open, threshold beckons.
One small step out of the light:
a synapse-leap into the past.
This house is older than the USA,
its neighbours languish empty;
within, avatars of former flat-mates,
or strangers, extend a silent welcome.
“Brighthelmstone” cared for its fishermen
before waves of aristos, gamblers, criminals,
tourists, commuters and students
fleshed its skeleton with “Brighton”.
Its heart aged pricey with antique shops,
with ethnic eateries like “English’s”.
In its heart, Warwick Street held out
till developers moved in.
The project sounded good: sheltered housing
for the elderly, green lawns, room to swing.
An organised community that dispossessed
the natural chaos of human communality.
But it’s youth, first freedoms, deepest friends,
not history, that sucks me through the doorway
to feel who’s there,
which “I” I am tonight.
Published in Free Zone Quarterly, Issue 25, Spring/Summer 2002. Re-published in Poetry Kit Magazine, Nos. 12-13, May 2009.
Once you had to follow television
to understand what to buy in the shops.
Often you forgot; that never happens
with the chips in our brains today.
People read so few books then,
derived strange ideas from them
till we taught technology to transmit
pleasure from paper to brain,
with messages between the lines
that have bestowed peace in our time
(the cigarette wars apart)
and undisturbed profits.
How weird when people
were allowed to write, and think
what they said. So divisive.
Now that’s sorted for us,
we are free to devote ourselves
to higher purchases and the cultivation
of an exemplary buying record
(except the poor Cantonese).
I look to the future, confident
the Board will install God™ in His glory
to suffer the children to work in His fields,
vent His wrath on the underclass
when they’re slow in His factories,
inspire virgins to lend wombs,
like Mary, our loving Mother,
and cut taxes to an all-time low.
Published in Eunoia Review, 8 April 2011