Vol 94 No 1
It can be imagined as something like a typewriter, but having the additional quality of being able to read, or scan, other symbols, and to erase them if necessary . . . a tape of infinite length, divided into squares, with each square carrying a single symbol. The machine would then move the tape one square at a time, read the symbol, and either remain in the same state, or move to a new state, depending on what it read. Essentially, it is a device for transforming one string of symbols into another, according to a predetermined set of rules.
– on the Turing machine
The fare is ravishing, but has recently wept,
her face runny black streaks, the driver’s eyes in the rear-view
looking back to see what’s up.
She keeps her eyes on the passing streets, fingers
a man’s comb in her pocket.
Outside, people walk alone staring down at concrete,
or hold each other in goodbyes, or scream at the sky.
She tells him pull over.
She says before we go on, I’m going to tell you something,
and I don’t want you to say anything.
I started cutting myself again, forearms first,
veins ruptured, then dragging the mirror slice
over my stomach and breasts.
It means more to do it there.
I haven’t done this shit in a year, but now it’s back
it’s such a familiar feeling – like some old, crazy friend.
I get used to it, but still appreciate it for what it is.
I have a history.
The hem of my dress was in his mouth.
There were wires
dangling where electronics were attached,
winking knick-knack lights, and I remember
a whiskey glass seemed to jump off the table
all by itself. I could hear a telephone
My Dad worked years in the Palace of Machines.
When he came back, he was different, ages
combing his hair in the car before he’d get out,
looking at himself in shop windows.
Everybody said; it wasn’t just me.
I’ve changed my mind . . . No, it’s okay, keep it . . .
I’ll walk home over the bridge.
All used cars contain the ghosts of former owners.
Randy didn’t know that, which is why he kept bringing
his ’93 Accord back into the shop.
Every day at 4:35, the radio dial spinning on its own,
catching just a word or two from various stations
to form the same sentence,
Don’t. Kiss. Me. On. The. Mouth.
Ramon the mechanic would shrug –
I can rewire it for you again.
It’ll cost you two-fifty like usual, but if you’d just believe....
Randy wanted no part of it.
He’d rather pay someone money
and have everything the way he thinks it should be.
So Ramon the mechanic rewires the Honda
to make the voices go away, the former owner’s,
the girl who made money
whoring, so she could learn Quark
and work in an office.
She’d hold her palms to her big belly
while they did it, saying to them
you can tell me anything – your life in a town
halfway across the country, and the promises you make
every morning over coffee –
through the alternator and bundled wires
the ghosts of everybody
always telling her what’s wrong.
In the booth, four red telephones, side by side,
each one with a pre-recorded woman’s voice
talking dirty in English, French, Spanish, and German.
Through the window in Ralph’s Lounge
a clown in full makeup, hired once
to entertain your ninth birthday party –
he was upset by something that day
and he looks pretty upset about something today.
He still works part time as a mechanic,
and used to fix your Honda, the one you sold
when you started commuting from your wife’s place.
He has the booth by the window at Ralph’s,
and he’s shouting into the red telephones.
The highball glass, with a few drops of melted ice,
catches the light a little.
The waitress stares past him
to the camera crew, setting up outside Ralph’s.
One of them looks at his watch, the news
about someone’s famous daughter
is a tight turnaround, even with the tip-off.
The guy in the clown suit hasn’t spotted you yet,
unless he spotted you
and just didn’t want to say hi.
There are messages on my voicemail
that must never be deleted,
messages closing with the sing-song fadeout
I carry in my head.
After all, hearts cool, eyes wander, buses brake poorly,
and bank robbery shootouts sometimes
spill onto streets crowded with lunchtime shoppers.
Here’s what I need from you:
The messages about someone being dead,
keep them in my box for seven days.
I need to know whose house everyone’s at,
and I need directions,
because they all live twenty minutes from some place
I only heard about in commercials.
The last time, the taxi got lost
and I started to breathe a little heavy thinking
I’d never find the place, and I swear to God
if you even think about deleting a single one
I’ll kill your Dad.
I’m sorry, but this is the business you’ve chosen.
Here’s what I need from you:
voice pattern recognition lockout triggers.
I don’t just want the messages flagged with
Don’t Delete colour codes.
I want the upgrade, the one
exercising a degree of autonomous thought, preventing
the kind of human error that leaves me no choice
but to open up your Dad’s face.
We’re talking here
about the reason God gave you auditory senses,
to find out if a specific person who used to call
but stopped calling,
called, asking if he can stuff the money in your mouth
and cover up your nose, so you can’t breathe
unless he says.
The machine should be taught
to covet the voice on my saved messages,
not to the point forbidding me
replaying them for myself, but to understand the part
drops down to a grimy whisper, asking
who’s the birthday boy, jumping
to the fresh DJ, in the club full of trance skulls.
- 10th Muse
- Angel Exhaust
- Blithe Spirit
- Brando's hat
- Brittle Star
- Cannon's Mouth, The
- Coffee House, The
- Dream Catcher
- Floating Bear, The
- French Literary Review, The
- Frogmore Papers, The
- Global Tapestry
- Grosseteste Review
- Homeless Diamonds
- Interpreter's House, The
- Journal, The
- Lamport Court
- London Magazine, The
- Modern Poetry in Translation
- Monkey Kettle
- Neon Highway
- New Welsh Review
- North, The
- Obsessed with pipework
- Oxford Poetry
- Painted, spoken
- Paper, The
- Pen Pusher Magazine
- Poetry Cornwall
- Poetry London
- Poetry London (1951)
- Poetry Nation
- Poetry Review, The
- Poetry Salzburg Review
- Poetry Scotland
- Poetry Wales
- Private Tutor
- Purple Patch
- Rain Dog
- Reach Poetry
- Review, The
- Rialto, The
- Second Aeon
- Seventh Quarry, The
- Smiths Knoll
- Strange Faeces
- Tabla Book of New Verse, The
- Tolling Elves
- Ugly Tree, The
- Wolf, The
- Yellow Crane, The