They want the perks of death without its drawbacks.
They finance the idea
that consciousness is distorted
data, always delayed, the self
a costly entitlement, but they can fix that.
Shrink-wrap the underclass. One-time payments
to the families of liberals, with the proviso
there won’t be any more. But they too,
the deciders, in an odd fellow-feeling,
want sleep. Vast doses of sleep
are better than psychotropics
and trophy-wives. The essential
liberty is liberty from dreams.
The poor, of course, in their warehouses become
piped-in reruns, but the masters
go on buying and speculating
through clever proxies. Eventually we (in a sense)
leave earth, in a translucent block
like a plaque. Lines on graphs
go up and up, unseen. Eventually
for energy around the last stars, then
in the ergosphere of black holes,
but even those dissolve. Though the proxies seek
a new investment, there is only
more comprehensive sleep; and they feel, perhaps,
a delegated grief.
Poor machines, poor force-fields,
still guarding my insomnia deep in their files.
Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both published by Story Line Press. A collection of shorter poems, A POVERTY OF WORDS, March 2015 from Prolific Press. Has appeared in Hudson Review, Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, Die Gazette (Munich), The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Representations, Magma (UK), Iota (UK), Bateau, Main Street Rag, Fulcrum, etc. Online, poems have appeared in Big Bridge, Hamilton Stone Review, Diagram, BlazeVox, The New Hampshire Review, Mudlark, Occupoetry, Faircloth Review, Triggerfish, etc. Adjunct professor creative writing George Washington University.
Our worst dreams aren’t of battle
but of waking to find
no voice on the comms, no film
from companionable drones
on the screens, no flashy noisy horizon.
Sometimes we’re surrounded
by unidentified wreckage;
sometimes it’s rusted, ancient, but plainly
ours. We maintain unit cohesion –
familiar personalities, rank –
as if meaningful orders
emerged from it. Yet our gaze
turns to the hills:
the enemy may have triumphed there.
The enemy and we
may be totally forgotten there.
Peasants may live there;
we could provide
skills, find homes, negotiate a way
of life ... You’d think we’d welcome
air without bits of metal in it,
all that variously dreamed