2016-03-02

Bootstraps

Who doesn't want to write a history of the World?

This is a slightly unusual posting, as this poem isn't necessarily finished.  What happened is, I put it on a couple of forums, and I got some enthusiastic responses, and also some suggestions for improvements.  Then somebody asked if they could share it on Facebook, and I thought: why not?  However Facebook loses formatting, so it on my blog for her to share...

...so here we are, but it may be subject to further edits later.

Call it a history of the World, v0.1-beta...










Bootstraps


First floor -- survival gear: axes chipped
from patient flint; animal skins stitched
with skill and bone needles;
tribal leaders
arguing beside the standing stone;
berries gathered in the sun; fires kindled
in the gloom, to keep the toothier beasts at bay; going up...


Second floor -- farms and agriculture; cats to keep
the rats away; dogs and scrawny goats; the spinning
year and fleeces; fleas in every rush pile
bed; people sleeping on a platform,
animals beneath; pots built from the local clay and fired,
by the clan who have the knack; orange/yellow copper
in the kiln ash, a young man prods it thoughtfully; going up...


Third floor -- city states: law and orders;
walls; gates; men with wise beards,
meet, casual in the forum; politics; decorum, until
the food gets scarce; princelings swapped with
worldly powers to guarantee the peace;
philosophers on temple steps; priests
at watch, nervously; a man who writes everything down; going up...


Third floor mezzanine -- libraries and scriptoria: days
spent, short and candle dim; rude notes
illustrated in the margin, to the greater glory; a story
captured and defined, here and there a line
of mystery; history, on the lectern, written by scribes
in the chapter-houses of the monasteries of the victors;
a new fear of fire; books from half the World, traded, copied; going up...


Fourth floor -- industrialism and empire: men
in clever top hats; lines on maps or diagrams which change
the game; labourers becoming craftsmen, speaking plainly
of pounds per capita per square imperial inch;
unflinching duty; railways; educating lesser races;
ignore their anger, they are children; government buildings
in grandly inappropriate style; social reform; going up...


Fifth floor -- total war: wondering what it's all about in a foxhole;
shells; war poets; dysentery; seven new kinds of mud
to drown in; gas, artillery and wire; cunning inventions
to burn up everything you've known;
fragments of bone in your hair; high explosive
which de-constructed your buddy, hearing, presence of mind;
ACHTUNG MINEN! no leaves on the tree, rumours of a treaty; going up...


Fifth floor mezzanine -- teenagers and youth: sex and drugs;
hugs and messages of vague well-being; seeing things
in new lights; days lost in what used to be reverie, but now
is chilling out; tearing down old certainties, while still
living
within them; distant mystics, sexier than the local ones;
rolling the stones; liberty, equality, hints of progressive policy; going up...


Sixth floor -- technology: machines for making machines that make
decisions; tension round the rate of change; every day strange
and bravely whirled; Internets; commerce; the people, connected
and loving and arseholes, in equal measure; treasure
sieved from big data; advanced manufacturing facilities
and people drawing squiggles
to sell them on-line; connections for the World, for your mind; going up...


Seventh floor...

Top floor -- future: worlds beyond number;
World without end; machines that think
they are men; vice-versa; change here for: space
elevators, interstellar colonisation, Dyson spheres, generation ships;
there is no ceiling;
the stars like sand upon the beach
of every island paradise the mind imagines...

...I'd put your head between your knees,
it takes some that way, Sir. Shall
I drop you somewhere?  The Victorian Era?  The Renaissance?
Very good Sir.  Going down...



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