The Uncertainty of Machines

This poem won Honourable mention in the 2003 2-Day Poem Contest

"It's funny, don't you think, how time seems to do a lot of things? It

flies, it tells, and worst of all, it runs out." - Markus Zusak

 

the unreliability of men and their machines

pressure readings skewed by barometrics of the heart

vagaries of temperature breeze or elevation

victims of inertia      varying degrees of rust

 

the way that dogs will simper and whine whenever they're afraid

at fireworks or sirens in the middle of the night

silent flare of sunspots      rounded fullness of the moon

shelter of rainclouds built up fast in humid midday heat

 

tall as Tut's sarcophagus      smoothly deco curved

the shining ivory weighscale stood back hidden in the corner

out of sync with screaming effects in the rest of the arcade

shining brass plate still inscribed with careful curling letters

 

*gebildet in Kairo / made in Cairo*

I drop the copper penny into the slot wait for some response from

the tired old machine deliberations moving gears somewhere deep within

heavy and slow as glaciers in the mountains

 

calibrated finite lines etched in intersections

show my weight in kilograms pounds and even stone

I prefer the clever sound of ten stone eleven

to the more discouraging thud of a hundred fifty-one

 

despite beguiling arguments proposing the inverse

life is not the on-line game it sometimes seems to be

cursor's blink the only rhythm natural to the day

artificial heartbeat so misleadingly dull

 

I fret at sinister dangers      the possibility of faucets reversed

installed by left-handed plumbers who were badgered into rushing

am anxious I might scald myself while fiddling half in sleep

fumbling in the sink at night to fill my hand with water

 

every bit as I awkwardly I stumble through the days

tottering in triple time to some archaic saraband

listening to tunes that have long gone out of key

remembering stories of airplanes that have fallen from the sky

 

they say that time will tell      that change is the only sure thing

all a case of entropy      the rise of litmus blue

even the automatic coffee machines

refused my coins this morning

 

I contemplate the ever-decreasing tension of springs

retain my faith in maybe only levers wedges wheels

question why aluminum repels the magnet's hold

wonder if even that fact will always be true

Published online June 01 2003.

This poem was a winner in CV2’s annual 2-Day Poem Contest. Every April, CV2 challenges players to create a new original poem that uses all 10 words of our choosing. It’s poetry under pressure for prizes, publication, and personal bests. Learn how to sign up for the next 2-Day Poem Contest.


Art of the Game cover image

This piece was published in ‘Art of the Game,’ the Summer 2003 issue of CV2.

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