The android speaks in free verse
It is actually 2024.
Six years ago,
My job was determined to be automatable,
And I was replaced by a robot
Designed to scour the internet for pictures of women wearing red lipstick
(Incidentally, the robot was also let go after completing the job in under an hour and throwing a tantrum).
Unable to find new work,
I was classified as a non-essential
And issued a corner
To bide my time
Until the government wraps its head around Universal Basic Income.
I am there.
Is a broken-down, split-brain delusion for the destitute,
And here, I am the robot.
That is, I used to be an animal and now I am a not.
It went like this:
The firm was firmly situated
To convert to fully automated,
When an ambitious insider whispered that their profits margins could be elevated
If they kept their existing employees
And just tweaked them instead
By turning their thoughts down
So the binary could be activated.
It’s way less paperwork,
So your up-tops won’t get too frustrated,
You don’t have to kick out your friends
(Who would then need, legally, to be compensated).
And so I never left -
I just sat there looking at the light and faded.
Slowly, my thoughts abated,
Giving way to 1’s and 0’s,
Thought and action regulated,
Robot Emma calibrated,
Former self thus abdicated,
As the corporate blueprint stipulated,
I was not tossed out and replaced,
I was created.
Speak now, when there is too much else to hold
I banished my voice
Hoping to see if I had something to say
Once and for all.
Hoping I’d find out what I was made of in there
If I let enough of it build up.
But nothing built up like what I thought.
No grand speeches
No protest chants
No quotable sitcoms
No TED talks
No weight-loss blogs
None of that.
Instead what I found,
What I missed,
What I felt bubbling from the deepest trenches of me
Were good mornings.
So many of them.
Have a good one,
Cooing at my little girl good job,
And thank you.
I pulled my mouth as wide as it could go
But could not get it open -
How’s it goin’?
I gave out more smiles
And waves -
Good to see ya!
I handed out handshakes
When I was bursting withI’ve missed you
I kissed as many cheeks as I could reach
And I couldn’t keep up -
So many of them.
They piled up so high
They almost started to look like a life.
And I was missing them -
So many of them.
A hand falls out of focus.
It is not directly in front of the eyes,
Making it too far away for now
And it falls away from hand.
First an extra finger grows,
Somewhere in the middle it seems.
They are difficult to count.
Or was it always five and a thumb?
By now all the nails have disappeared into the highlights
Since there are no more whites to bite down.
All one color, it looks more starfish than hand
All splayed out
Or that coral dead man’s fingers.
Better a starfish.
Clear water hugging and rocking its back,
Stomach pressed up on a rock
To hide that dry spot from the tide.
If the ocean wanders too far away
Giving the starfish to the sun
Does it feel itself cook?
An answer fingers could find
If they were still fingers
But now as a starfish shrivels without water,
So do the late fingers within.
They never much pictured drowning,
But while they’re at it,
It doesn’t look so different from swimming
Closer to the end,
It looks more like treading,
If somewhere else the legs are doing all the work,
But if hands were too far for the eyes,
The legs are on their own,
And in the darkness that follows,
All is one clean simple everynothing.
Out of focus
It is calm