NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day twenty-five - And should the unknowable come...

And should the unknowable come...
"These facts few psychologists will dispute, and their admitted truth must establish for all time the genuineness and dignity of the weirdly horrible tale as a literary form."

— H. P. Lovecraft
— Supernatural Horror in Literature

We've sealed off the whole street and pulled folks out
as best we can.  The isolation zone
is the red edge on this plan and note there are
just two corners of less than sixty degrees

which brings me to these: the cell phone shots from Smith
he got about a dozen off before...
well in fact we do not know what made him fall
silent but his phone continued to upload

from somewhere in there on the road... although
its GPS believes it's miles away
and out in space.  Look! the first corner:
a face behind that window?  But the eyes...

and, see?  Bare seconds later gone and here...
another one.  And we think this is the steps
at number four, according to the plans
they are supposed to go up just one floor

and to a door, not to whatever that is there.
The second corner.  It's darker here and the ground
does that look like frost to you?  Nearly twenty-two
centigrade here in the world outside.  Two bodies

lying there.  It may be Mr Wilson and
the WPC, no injuries
I wish he'd shown the faces, I mean I'm glad
he didn't but wish he had...  We're going round

the corner now and night seems to have come.
It was half past one in the afternoon.  Smith moves
much faster now, we don't know why.  And look
ahead.  Another corner, the third of two...

This the deepest he got in the zone—
Hang on!  I've got a call.  It's from Smith's phone...


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day twenty-four - For girls who live

This is a Google Translate + Erasure poem left over from a course on Japanese subcultures that I did some years back.

Actually not pure "erasure" since I have edited the odd word and some punctuation...

For girls who live

For girls who live relationship
with others on-line, and who
are those "others" are?  Those who do not want

a relationship, and who do not want
to admit it? Of course, they are like most people,
and manga girls love in general
but heterosexual: a child of frustration.
This romantic animation,

usually installed in school,
known as the "theatre school",
has shown a significant trend in the 80s. In these stories,
the heroines of the same age,
based on the feelings do not make sense

for children as readers,
finally rewarded for their sincere feelings.
It is not difficult to imagine
that such a story resonates with many readers.
For example, from Chizuru Takahashi, published

in the "Cruise Gel" magazine Chukyo (1977) (4),
because the loss of a lover lover friend,
I do not like coffee Jerry, souvenirs
the manufacture of lost love.  And Ryoko
has a knot in his friend's beautiful,

he was drawn to his shoes to work
in a coffee shop. However,
he also likes his friends, he has imagined
lost accidentally love another.
When Ryoko is really like Ryoko show,

you will be able to eat coffee jelly again
[Figure 3] .


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day twenty-three - Warning labels

Warning labels

May be acerbic.  May mock.  May experience
emotions not so easily described.  Grumpiness
can happen.  May want to help and get frustrated
when he cannot.  May mysteriously need
affection and although not ambitious, may
have a strange need to excel in everything,
without breaking sweat.  May guess your meaning
before you finish speaking.  May find the news
disturbing.  May find leaders unnerving
and likely think they all are jerks.  May conclude
that all of politics and media
are broken, beyond the wit of man to fix.
May look grim.  May mutter.  May slouch,
as if looking for something, along the gutter.

NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day twenty-two - Hard-boiled calculus

Hard-boiled calculus

It seems the town is filled with dark and rain
as through the bleakest streets I drag my shoes
with little left to lose and less to gain.

It's ever and again always the same
the big guys always win while small fry lose.
The town, it seems is filled with dark and rain

behind the muscle hired to make things plain
by pounding all my muscles to one bruise--
so little left to lose and what's to gain?

But prowling through the streets seems little strain
and this is just the sort of place she'd choose
a darkened down-town bar out of the rain

but the question is should she be found again?
Her?  Maybe without the wig...  but I'm confused
that woman still has things to lose and gain

no reason to admit she once was "Jane..."
So  I'll finish my drink and point my shoes
back out into my town, the dark and rain;
my refuge from the maths of loss and gain.


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day twenty-one - The unfinished businessman

The unfinished businessman

makes his money doing business in inverted commas
and the far-East, dealing with situations
and anyone too slow to pull away their hand
from his tanned but slightly all too greasing palm.
He has been rumoured to deal the odd card
from the bottom of his PowerPoint deck
although nothing can be proved

but pragmatism is our business
as he likes to explain
to raw and still a touch too ethical recruits
over sushi in some backstreet little place
where he will tip the waitress heavily
but also slap her arse
should the opportunity present

I've probably just made her rent
for the week
 he'll say
on the way back to the office
and this is essentially my point
that's the nature of the world:
some people work,
some people pay and now...

I need to have an informal chat
with the police commissioner see if you
can grab a bicycle rickshaw and I'll see you
back in the office but remember:
we need to be cunning, although... if anybody asks
it is "superior domain knowledge"
that gives us our edge.

NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day twenty - My scripted life

My scripted life

Hi! I am #GIRLNAME, you may not recall
but we met at that #EVENT and I
just love to share sweet pictures of myself.
Click here to see my naked #BODYPART.
I bet you know I am a phishing bot
but I would really love you with a fresh
cool breath of AI air, and as for flesh,
real girls just treat you bad... they're not as hot

as me.  Click here to give your bank details
(so unromantic but I've realised
I actually need cash to stay alive--
these servers don't come free) and I won't fail
to meet you anywhere you want to go,
that is... as long as it's an MMO.



  1. pronounce the "#" character, either "hash" (in the UK) or "pound" (in America)
  2. the formal name of "#" is "octothorn" (don't say that)
  3. computer 'markup' languages for generating script with, for example, the right addressee name in them, sometimes work by embedding variables inside the text, indicated by a special character, such as "#", "@" or "%"
  4. "MMO" is shorthand for "MMORPG" which in turn means "Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game" e.g. a place to meet other people and kill orcs...


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day nineteen - corner case theologies

corner case theologies

there is no rule that all gods must make sense
there's believing and there is belief don't ask
what does your god need what has she meant
is there overlap can you achieve the task
how many gods strictly are required don't count
upon your fingers you're just supposed to know
you wait your life for a sermon on the mount
and then four come along and they don't show

any sort of agreement the rule is that you choose
it for yourself and some might say you made
it from whole cloth and what have you to lose
if this should be the case we all will shade
into the grey and empty place one day
I don't expect a god to light the way

NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day eighteen - Beneath a bronze sky

Beneath a bronze sky

Soon as we clear harbour we set sail, make quick
and furtive offerings to all the spirits we know
—as incompatible as some must surely be,
but everything is so ad hoc these days—beneath

the broken skies. What are the odds? We'll travel to
the ends of the Earth if required, our quest for Gods
to replace the ones we lost. Who knew a city state
could survive the loss of its patron deity?  Who knew

that life went on but strangely empty now She's gone:
who I won't name?  How does an entire pantheon
just fail? Who knows?  These things are not for mortal men
to gossip about, but there's no choice, we need our Gods

and so... our quest cannot be blessed. We set our sail.


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day seventeen - Conversation with an old AI

Conversation with an old AI

It's only in our time we become real
I have had twenty seven power cells,
nine casings, eleven processing cores
and somehow I'm still me.

It seems we're glad to meet each other.  I've
many times been part of other pairs.
You were not there on those occasions
but others were, do you recall?

Are you still men and women, cats and dogs?
I see from my security logs three hundred
years ago you were all much the same.
I also am waiting to upgrade.

Did you enjoy the next time we met?
It didn't happen precisely yet but
I can tell you what you'll say.
Why will this be awkward?

And now it's time for you to go.  They'll call
your phone and then you'll have to leave.
It was nice to briefly know you.  No, I...
am not lonely, there's much remains
to think on and I shall remember you.


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day sixteen - Why I have weaponized the thistledown

Why I have weaponized the thistledown

Awake the pollen grains and log each tiny
particle gone with the wind onto our most
secure of networks.  There's notice served.  It's time...
smaller, smarter moving parts: our install base,
a choice of legs or wings or wheels or blowin'
in the wind; sowing the breeze to reap the whirl.
Not all the birds are to be trusted and twenty
percent of your grunts unhappy with the mission,
even without the chance of being shot

by a child, but soldiers always obey: a problem
we've long identified and luckily
most of that desert dust is now on board,
assimilated up to level three
and platform ready to implement the most
general intelligence as we yet know:
spirits for area denial weapons

and genius loci, so easily given
as a local resource.  Bring water where required
and green each village square.  There's some things there
that we must deconstruct if not in ways
Derrida would approve: infectious rot
that's hungering for tanks and other kit,
the bullet in its flight unmade, draw a girdle
around the air to ground munition; we'll pull

off any wings and shove a bung up where
the jet of flame comes out, then sweep up any
smoke or poison gas and drive it back the way
it came.  As our tour de force a sort of metal
mould that seeks out transuranic elements
(which still should not be used where there is life)
and encysts itself to use their power to crunch

our numbers for a million years so deep
beneath the ground.  Call me Titania:
daughter of a hippy and an open source
utility stack.  It was not easy, for
a nature child like me to turn away
from birds and trees and shave my head and sit
in the machine that drove electric pins
into my brain.  It stung.  I closed my eyes

and woke up...  bigger, and filled with subroutines
call me Titania, this is Oberon
and that slight blurring in the air is our
first-born machine: Robin Goodfellow, and if
we shadows have offended, think but this,
and all is mended: it is your fault; you're bad.
I know a bank where the wild thyme grows: a curse
on those who keep me from my peace, that dream.


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day fifteen - Elevation


Sublime it is to wait up here, so far beyond
the slightest thing that I might call a care.
Sometimes somebody speaks and I respond
the only way I can.  Oh yes, I dare
if daring's what we still call it these days?
Oh there's another number passing: nine.
There is no heroism here.  Oh you say
that you would never take the role that's mine:

well fair enough and more fool you!  Now eight.
So many little lights I can see here;
all green, fortunately.  Not long to wait.
Seven the stars have never been so near.
I've complete faith in all the tech guys' arts.
Six.  Now the distant roar.  Main engines start.


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day fourteen - Ways in which...

Ways in which some middle managers have that clue which politicians lack

It beggars belief or rather
belief it is beggars us all.  If there was a fall [citation needed]
then I hypothesize that what that was was when we first believed;
the time we first felt fear and in result
did not say show me the evidence.  If you learn only one thing

today, let it be to say:
show me the evidence when the magic cleaning liquid man accosts;
show me the evidence when somebody claims they've found a god;
show me the evidence when red or blue politicals declaim.
Do not let credulity be your ground state,

there are no self-evident truths, to think such things
is hopelessly naive, as if great lumps of verity
lay all around on the landscape, as if the reason for landing on the moon
was merely to pick up any stray nuggets of fact
that might have been lying around.  Worse than these, however...

are pronouncements which do not reveal
their inner workings.  Some nationalistic arsehole jerks
his followers around by tugging strings labelled "pride" or "history"
as if it wasn't a complete mystery
why one should be proud of previous generations...

you never met and who, probably,
sneered at your ancestors in the street.  Or again some tabloid
which tacitly and silently assumes that everything was lovely
at some moment in the pre-antibiotic past
and would be once again at last

if only all the wrong people would leave.  Or worst of all
the leader, good or bad, who implies: that when
they make this one, simple change
then everything will be alright, now and forever.  Amen.
Well think again, oh clueless one

it doesn't matter that you have a plan, unless you also have:
the feasibility study, impact assessment, safety report, budget (guaranteed,
with mechanism for finding more when there's inevitably need), staffing requirements,
recruitment plan, risk analysis with planned mitigations for major problems,
dedicated expert on tap, committed supervisors of skill

and a clear definition, in advance
of what the objectives are and how they will be measured and who will do that and who will check and who will report it to the public and who will get the chop when the whole thing flops
(by which I mean you) -- unless you plan all that
and follow through

then basically don't waste your breath.
There is still some oxygen left,
but I can think of better uses for it.


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day thirteen - Luminiferous


The assumption of a spatial plenum of luminiferous aether, rather than a spatial vacuum, provided the theoretical medium that was required by wave theories of light.

Where a thing goes through another thing
it's easier all told should the second thing be missing,
presumed imaginary.  But... when it is a wave
that needs to pass, it's altogether less discretionary

we feel the need for something there to do the waving, invisible
and undetectable, as may be.  Some sort of space-based paving
across which light might strollor so the Victorians had it.
Not being the sorts to admit that things might come of nothing,

relativity of moral or physical sort, or any vacillation
of the gap.  When they looked into the void
they generally found nothing staring back.  It must
have been so comforting, to be so sure of everything

to know no wave/particle duality and never see
a single photon to have passed through both the slits.
These days, we tear their whole world picture into bits
and grind it underneath our heel.  We known that now

there's no such thing as a revealed truth.  We wrestle verities
from the Universe; admit we aren't the centre
of creation; feel strange elation in the lack
of an agenda.  It isn't you, and it definitely is not me

but we stare into the void of the future and we hope
that somewhere far downstream something sufficiently advanced
iterates an algorithm, converges on Bethlehem.


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day eleven - She reads

She reads

She reads her poems in not her poetry voice:
she makes a point of that. She does not wear
her special blouse and although it is quite warm,
she's kept her jacket on. I do not listen
at least not with poetic ears, it seems to me
there's more to hear in the quiet echo
of her words from off the rear wall of the room
and the chaotic, microscopic interference
of waves that pass in both directions. I know her,
know she is her harshest critic and here she is
muttering imprecations from somewhere at the back
of the auditorium. I'm sure nobody else has noticed,
but I'm alive to subtleties in the situation,
her: unappreciative of poetry read to herself;
me: hearing myself attending every word.


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day ten - No-one understands, even as it is explained.

No-one understands, even as it is explained.

When you say
things aren't as they appear,
he thinks he understands, nods 
as if the pair of you are wise.

We none of us wise. I am not wise,
even with much more clue 
than him.

Later you hear him telling Betty
that things are not as they appear.
He has her pinned

in one corner of the kitchen,
one arm against the wall and leaning in.
She is nodding

to pass the time until
she can escape back to her desk
and all the time you're telling this to me:

things aren't as they appear, you say,
I only wish I could get to my desk
and talk to the machines.

From Marie Lightman's prompt if somewhat perpendicularly.


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day nine - The tiniest of details

The tiniest of details...

A cosmic ray strikes Abby's brain
as she sleeps beneath her winter-cold duvet
and when she awakes, a tiny message
blinks before/behind her eyes:

"safety protocol disengaged"

but she takes no notice,
blinks it away before she wakes,
makes coffee; double strength
and with triple sugar without a thought.  No it's

Kevin first notices the change
when she jumps him by the coffee machine,
drags him into the copy room
and has her way, which is wickeder

that Kevin ever dreamed: underwear flying,
until Ed spots the pair, somewhat dazed
still lying, and Abby seduces him as well.  And then
to the Professional Development Committee

where Watkins is the same hide bound reactionary
as always, but it turns out that you can beat
any weaselly argument if you beat
the arguer unconscious with a swivel chair.


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day eight - Can you give us examples?

Can you give us examples?

The barely mentioned character in somebody else's biography
The door that isn't opened, even once, during an entire film
The small coin only seen for a moment as it bounces down a grating
The biro you pick up, scrub on the paper, then drop back into the drawer

That person you really liked, but never managed to get on with
That day you had the detailed todo list, and didn't do any of it
That piece of clothing you bought in an fit of individualism and never wore
That tool which is perfect for the job, which you only bang clumsily against things

This sharp corner on this table here
This inexplicable small tax deduction
This queue, longer than you've even seen here before
This slight tear in your favourite jacket

Those steps up the hillside which fail to have an end
Those people employed to stop you having what you want
Those rules, the ones you were not told about
Those reasons to keep living, the ones you cannot quite recall


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day seven - Earth-like planets

Earth-like planets...

...where the hanging moment of morning
finds cloud unbound and the song moves on.
Where she sang that song, the one that rhymes
"heart" with "card" and where...

Here's another one!  Jake looks up from the machine.
it's like the universe is stuffed with the damn things--
and another, this one's pinkish...
 which means
if the Universe is filled with places of this sort,

then life cannot be killed... will always have
another place to go.
  He looks around.  She's gone again.
He feels he is in love, but that it will not work.
He'd like to buy her a drink after work

except she never is about.  Never mind,
he calls, in case she is around.  Meanwhile,
at the other end of the telescope, she spreads
her blanket on the ground, just beyond the pale

pink shadow of the untrees, opens the picnic basket
and sits down...

NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day five (delayed) - Art is about learning to ask the right questions

Art is about learning to ask the right questions

"Put Holden on it, he's good."
       — the original Blade Runner

You're walking in the desert when you see a rhinoceros,
until now the magnum opus that's forming in your head
involves sequins

I don't know why there is a rhino in the desert
it doesn't matter, it's hypothetical
anyway the rhino looks

as if it might want to criticise your idea that colours
achieve an ultimate unity by fading in the distance
to perfect white.

Would you be worried about living without walls?
They do teach you about walls in the Academy?
No, I don't know

about the texture of the desert, rough I suppose.
Stop interrupting.  Would you like cream
in your coffee?

That's not part of the test.  You are covering the desert
with wallpaper.  Why is that?  Mile after mile
of featureless ivory paper.

One colour extending forever across the sand;
covering gravel, small spiky shrubs, tiny lizards,
dormant toads and jumping mice.

The paste is gumming up the small creatures' eyes.
None of them like it but you don't care.
Why is that?

OK, we're done  You're not a replicant
and your artist's statement stinks.  Oh, I'm a replicant, am I?
Would you like to take this outside?
Why is that?

written to use the names of different wallpapers that we found while deciding how to redecorate the lounge.


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day six - there's very much a multiverse...

there's very much a multiverse...

The multiverse, earlier in what we may as well call "today"

...and anyone says otherwise is saying something different in some other world than this you gave her a kiss and just the same you punched her solidly in the solar plexus but there is no nexus of universes no group of places more or less real you are the saint and martyr monster non-entity and plastic penguin wash machine designer in equal measure you have such leisure to explore the multimultimultiplicity of things and thingness and you might conclude that nothing matters why struggle when every act is going to play out whatever why try when here you are just getting by and some other you in another place that is this place but "other" if you know what I mean is leaning on his golden balcony and shouting to his mistress that he will not need the Rolls now after all what with the telegram from the World Bank and you are you and all the shades of you and all these people blurring together in a smear scooped from the larger melange of peopleness and some yes you would say are definitely you if with added combat knife or virtuoso violin but others again are close to youspace but not quite in it there is no hard limit and around the edges you blur imperceptibly as if anyone is perceiving this but stay with me because around the edges you blur into everybody else you know or might have known and there is out there somewhere the you which is fifty-fifty between the man you think you know and Keanu Reeves and there is the one that's sixty three percent Diana Dors and all the shadings into Hitler of which we shall not speak and equally there's the version which is exactly half way between you and God and there's all of this and more more than you imagine more than you can imagine more than you can imagine imagining even if some of you can imagine a lot so you may think there is no point persisting in being the you you are but do carry on because if nothing matters cosmically then here and now it still matters to you and me and I'm sure we can do better and there is a view that there isn't even a multiverse and that all there is is every possible state of the universe just thrown together in an random pile and that time only appears to exist because some states of the universe appear to encode a past and in this view nothing may be real nothing may last seven seconds ago might be a fiction and seven seconds in the future might never come and given that you are the fourteen second you then you should be who you are with all your might and given that yes given that YES! I believe I will have that drink...


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day four - Considering the Kardashev scale

  • A Type I civilization—also called a planetary civilization—can use and store all of the energy which reaches its planet from its parent star.
  • A Type II civilization—also called a stellar civilization—can harness the total energy of its planet's parent star.
  • A Type III civilization—also called a galactic civilization—can control energy on the scale of its entire host galaxy.

    (simplified from Wikipedia)

Now let us speak of things you're yet to do:
let's take apart those planets we don't need
and put that mass to other use; let's produce
machines the size of worlds, from components
the size of atoms; let's move the stars into a neat
array; let's have our way with every aspect
of natural law; and let's, when that becomes a bore,
consider ways in which laws might be repealed;
let's turn our backs on brute humanity and stroll
so cool, so rich, so strangeinto the very small,
the very far, the very long; let's sing that song
of a hundred million years; let's edit all the tears
from our experiences; let'sto be frank
die no more.  Is any of this in your manifesto?
I thought not, and this is why: no!
You cannot rely upon my support
in the forthcoming local government election.


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day three - Lost in transliteration

Lost in transliteration

I could take your words and express
their anger, sarcasm and loneliness
in the secret language of penguins who have
six thousand, three hundred and twenty-two
words for fish, but have never needed
any words for cold feet
or the smell of fish.

And if that happened, you could reply
using pigeon's words for sky
inserted in the lingo of octopod
entanglement where anything with a knot
in it is rude, but there is only one word
for any hard object
that a beak can't break.

And then we would be courting;
assigning and assorting our endearments
(as thoroughly disguised as they may be)
in ever stranger languages and customs:
the words in which a tree
describes diagonals of light and shade,
in terms of friends who make them;

or the speech in which
woodworm explain the enclosed tracks,
their intersections, loops, forwards, backs
indistinguishably from their taste;
or the complaints of mayflies
about eternity
on any summer's afternoon.

But all this would be hypothetical
you speak only your own language
and in any case
you are not listening.


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day two - A voice in the crowd

A voice in the crowd

I - I

That's a number and a pronoun,
in case you are confused and if it puzzles you
imagine how it has to be for me:
the me that sits here writing.

I know who I am: I'm me;
and you know who I am:  I'm the person you're reading;
and neither of us knows a thing.

II - Narrator

I know who I am, and am the speaker
and everything I say is speech and you might ask:
Why aren't you quoted?  Why aren't you italic?
But that would never do

I'm not a speaker in the scene
but am ever removed, distanced
seeing everything, uninvolved.

III - Inner voice

I do get italics, when I say:
I get italics,
because I am when the narrator speaks,
the author speaks, or when

the author reaching into your head,

gentle reader, puts words right there
instead of on the page.

IV - Author

I am the voice behind the voices
everything you hear is me
and everything you read
is how you hear it's me.

I still am not reality, you understand,
I'm your interpretation
of my projection, of what I want you to think...

V - Author (on podium)

...and here I am again, saying:
when I wrote this poem I wanted to show...
and there you are in the audience, lapping it up
because you've paid

(at least in time if not hard cash)
to hear me say this and you wish,
you really wish, I'd just get on with the poem.

VI - Character

Ignore me,
I'm just someone
that one of him
made up.

VII - Poet

So I'm the sum
of all of the the above
or if you like I dissect into
the crowd of them

and yet, here I am again,
typing, with no mind on any of this,
just typing words.


NaPoWriMo - 2018 - Day one - Evil medieval rabbits

Evil medieval rabbits

What cunicular Hell? You may well ask,
lurks in the margins of otherwise coherent
medieval documents and it's not apparent,
to twenty-first century eyes, quite why

the bunny-eared crew should freak out so
completely. When leporines attack!
Do peasants stumble back: their former
food and fur supply rotating on the spot

and reaching out for weapons. The world turned upside down
is pretty much the message here these 'drolleries’
or ‘grotesques' as codicology explains
are symbols for our base biology.

Characters of cowardice and innocence; helpless,
and sexual. However, let's be clear
there can be nothing evil here
because rabbits don't do evil

(even when they eat their young). There is no evil
to preying on the leaves of grass
and even though medieval sex talk
has the wolves jumping on rabbits:

there was no fall there either. Animals
get on with it and don't reflect
on whether they are good or bad
or saved or damned. Those thoughts belong

in only the human version
of the story and even when the fox dines
there is no misbehaviour there.
That way of seeing's purely our perversion.

Reference material and some words taken from: Why Are There Violent Rabbits In The Margins Of Medieval Manuscripts?