Showing posts with label engine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label engine. Show all posts

2020-04-15

NaPoWriMo - 15/04/2020 - The Engine Subcommittee




The Engine Subcommittee...



...meets, occasionally quorate,
and every Thursday evening
in the longtime beer spill backroom
of the Dog and Gun.

They consider the case for turbine rotors
the glasses of beer, the ceramic or titanium alloys
the questions of low, high and optimum temperatures
and whether the peanuts should be salted

or dryly roast.  They consider the boast
of Nigel of the Flat Cap, that he can route
all the required pipes and wires
around the belfries and spires

without making a single decorated Gothic
flinch.  Watch the Master of Combustion pinch
out his cigarette and say
for the thirty-seven thousandth time

that he is certain all engine components
should be situated in roofs and crypts,
and not disturb the bats, or visitor collection box flow patterns,
in any significant way.

The subcommittee has been meeting for fifteen years;
the cathedral hasn't moved an inch.




2019-04-24

NaPoWriMo - 2019 #23 - Reference works




Reference works

So... Edward finally has the book.  It came
in Amazon's robust brown cardboard packaging
and the woman who lives downstairs took it in.
Thank you, says Ed, when he gets in from work
at seven p.m. but the woman — is it Carol? —
is blushing again and disappears.  Leaving
Edward with his box which he opens...

How to do anything!

(with diagrams)

This is the business -- and by business
he does not mean answering tech. support
queries for clueless noobs for eight hours every
day at what works out very close to minimum
wage, but business: the business of business
of getting stuff done and getting on.  Here we go...

How to debug Windows(tm) system-level drivers using a virtual machine.

Well perhaps this isn't where to start, let's try:

How to change a '64 or '65 Aston Martin gearbox.

--and the diagrams are great! You can see exactly
how to remove the clutch plate.  If only Edward
did not drive a smart car with a pushed-in wing.
Maybe the index is the thing?

How to sex aardvarks...

How to damp a gas-cooled reactor...

How to weld titanium in the vacuum of space...

All useful stuff but Ed to some degree
is aware of his place in the scheme of things
and this is not his metier:

How to turn a profit growing swedes...

How to hold a spade...

How to milk a cow...

How to duel with various blades...

And now Edward's starting to get angry
all he wants answered is one simple question
but is there an entry for How to meet nice girls?
Is it under "N"?  Is it under "G"?

Is this book even alphabetical?  Well nothing
for it but to read the whole damn thing.  Except
the doorbell rings and it is what's-her-face?
Karen?  Carla?  Katie!  That was it.  And it seems
she has made too much mushroom stroganoff
and would he like...?  Edward has too much
to do.  Too much to read...
Now, let's get down to this:

Chapter one:  How to recognise the obvious...




 


2019-04-17

NaPoWriMo - 2019 #17 - The days of your life beyond recounting




The days of your life beyond recounting


The days of your life beyond recounting
waiting at the junction in the rain:
the cars, the radio, and what accounting

can there be?  The billboard over there surmounting
the traffic island's fertile plain;
the grey life stories beyond recounting

crawling past each day.  Even discounting
repeated visits, the number's are insane.
The tires, the radiators: what accounting

for metal in motion.  The tonnage mounting
as commuters fill the left turn lane
the lives of days spewed from a fountain

and then there's you--frustration mounting--
in the stasis of a queue.  You can't explain
the ways of a life beyond recounting,
the cars, the radio, the days... who's counting.




2019-04-12

NaPoWriMo - 2019 #12 - What we can learn from alien machinery.



What we can learn from alien machinery.

Align the fixing lugs with care.  Keep clothing,
loose ideas and hair out of the works.
Don't shirk responsibilities, you are
the only one who can maintain
your interior landscape.  See how
the Centaurian Enveiglatron turns on

every nineteen and three-quarter hours, to brews itself
a cup of lukewarm surface-cleaning gel.
Try not to dwell upon a single goal
you can't control the quirks of fate and chance
see how the Nuclear Inflectionoid will dance

around alternative solutions and quest
not only for a task done well;
it's also seeking grace,
and to stop with every tool-head facing west
--we don't know why it does that,

and that's a lesson too!
There will be things you do,
simply part of you,
without a deeper meaning.  Do not ignore
the urge to laugh, or waltz,
or merely don your coat

with a perfectly unnecessary flourish.  You are a you
and like the Pseudo-de-crenalator
you're the only one we have.
So nourish yourself.  Make a scene, a song. a plan...
If you're not being you, then who the hell else can?



2019-02-23

A soap bubble...

We went to a talk on liquids.  It was by a guy who had written a popular science book on the same subject.  He was an entertaining speaker, although overstating his case in the way anyone would to big-up his book...

He made a point that I hadn't been aware of: that the rise of literacy had been fueled by whale hunting — because lighting was the major use of the whale oil, it gave a superior light which people needed to read by...

Whether that is 100% true I do not know, a lot of other things were made from whale products, but it did inspire in me a larger thought.

That period was an economic bubble; people were building progress on an unreal assumption, that the supply of whales went on forever: the bubble would have burst when the whales ran out.

Which never happened, because gas lighting came along before that happened, and then incandescent electric bulbs, fluorescent tubes, LEDs and blah, blah, blah...  the present day!

But...

Buuuu..ut...

The bubble is still there.  It's here, in fact!  And we're all living in it...







A soap bubble...


...was blown
so long ago,
the wide-eyed, Wonderland-oblivious,
toddler of humanity blew
clumsily through the loop gripped
in one chubby fist

—billions of people will die—

and the soap film hesitantly bulged out
powered by bronze,
steel, the horse collar, crop rotation.
Sailing ships and steam engines
smoothed into the fragile sphere,
as were pickaxes, dynamite, production-lines...
industrial farming, the Haber Process,
internal combustion engines and the fractional distillation
of crude oil...  Fast-breeder reactors...
embedded in the almost imaginary skin
of this bubble we blew,
this quintessentially breakable world
we knew through all our lives,
and implicitly assumed was real

—and billions will start to die—

when it turns out it is not.  We built
a civilisation on stuff we borrowed.  We assumed
that fossil fuel in the ground
was a permanent state:
a natural condition forever.  We thought
fertile topsoil was a given,
and clean water another gift, temperate climate,
fish-filled oceans, the very air...

—billions of people are starting to die—

as our assumptions start to crack along fine lines
and this is a bubble in the purest economic sense
because it actually worked through all the time
during which it seemed to work,
until one day, suddenly, boom!
It's always been a lie.

If this island earth were a spaceship:
power failing, the food limited,
life support pumping dodgy air;
we'd get all of engineering there
and have a meeting to decide
who can be stuffed in lifeboats,
who can be stuffed in freezers, and who
—because engineers are nothing if not completely realistic—
won't reach their destination.
You can try to get that one
before the United Nations, good luck with that!
And not to be a bore, but...

—billions of people will die—

and I don't trust that lot to do much about it.
Although, also, I, with my slightly less than human head on,
—because I have one of those—I say: OK,
billions will die, it is hard to overestimate the size
of disaster facing us, but it's not the end of the world,
it's just the end of the world as we know it
and as long as we don't completely blow it...
and as long as we weather the change
ride the tsunami
take what life remains us, as and where we find it
and not go end-of-days-fucking-crazy
with a Mad Max style weapons stash
and supercharger
on everybody's Christmas list, then...

—for the billions who by chance do not die—

there will be some loss of privileges.
We won't be eating meat;
we won't be mining bitcoin; may not be driving personal cars
but we can hope still to be here
in some form.
We haven't been attempting the impossible
it's not that a planet cannot support an apical species
with a silly headcount.
It's just that we didn't do our homework.
We don't have all the required tech,
have not closed the carbon curve,
balanced the energy budget, or worked out
what happens when ageing plastics want to retire...

...not produced a society that can keep its calm
on pressure-cooker starship Earth...

...but it can be done.  Still, not a comfortable thought,
and it's going to take some time

—during which billions of people will die.

It's not the end of the world,
it's just a soap bubble,
it's the end of the world as we know it:
pop.




2018-12-16

An iconography of rollers left in fields

image credit: cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Rose and
Trev Clough - geograph.org.uk/p/5159038
Rosemary got invited NessFest, a book festival in Inverness.  Good grief, that's a lot of railway...

And when you're stuck for hours in a train, even in such exquisite company, you start to notice recurring themes outside the windows.

There's a lot of abandoned agricultural machinery lying in fields here and there across the country, and what is that, if not a metaphor for life?  Or even a whole scheme of related metaphors...








An iconography of rollers abandoned in fields


Garden rollers in agricultural settings


Observe the small child whose duffle coat
wanders in the cathedral,
runs a bit, shouts at echoes,
peers at the stained glass window light
spilled on the floor. See how he sits down now
and falls asleep.


As if only just left

Dust sheets, ladder, brushes, cloths...
Where is that old screwdriver? Here. I'll lever
at the paint tin lid. Again, a little further round--
Oh damn! I need a stirring stick...
I'll be right back.


Some rust

Surface discolouration is a given:
we all show signs of wear. "Patina"
to put spin on it, or "you look shit!"
--when your bestie doesn't want to say it nice
as you stand beneath a poster
bigger than your house
filled with a newer model: preternaturally perfect,
sublimely open smile.


Wood rotting, metal intact

The softer parts break down, at first,
while harder parts prevail: the blistered finger,
the hangdog nail, but sooner or later
the long-term maintenance creeps up
that ligament in your left shoulder,
the tibia chipped inside one shin...
The wear and tear of years
accumulates: more a sadness
than a fear: no longer walking all the way,
the stairs a bigger thing; until one day
upon some ordinary bus,
a young lady offers you her seat.


Scattered iron fragments on the ground

To all things an end: only archaeologists believe
they can retrieve a past and piece
it back together. You, meanwhile, one recollection at a time,
take the finest brush to days
in infant school: the graze upon your knee
the way that one girl ran away
however carefully you offered her the mud.
Did anything happen in the years after that?
It isn't easy to be sure.


In the ditch

We all have low points
entropy will see to that.
The same sky is still above you...
the mud's quite soft:
why not lay back?


In the middle of the field

Look at me! Look at me! Look at me NOW!
No, of course I don't have anything useful,
constructive,
or even actionable to relate. But I'm so great...
See, I even have the expensive shoes.
Just keep looking at me!!


In the middle of the field with an unmown area around it

Am I that man? Am I the one that people drive
their metaphorical tractors right round? Am I
the guy? Is everybody quietly told:
not to mention the steam railways, or question
me listening to that single 80s band
for seven hours a day;
he's a friendly enough man...
it's just his little ways,
work around him
.


With a small tree growing through

Life is as we know it, not
as we plan it: an adaptation situation.
We wouldn't plan a largish silver birch
inserted just where it hurts
but since that's where we find ourselves,
we make the best
of never moving again: a great view to the West
every evening's sunset;
the birds that roost at twilight,
in autumn eating the birch seed
that hasn't run off through the wind.




2018-04-19

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.




2017-11-26

The difference between a poetry open mic and the Albert Hall...

A mighty organ,
earlier today...
I go regularly to a poetry open mic now, it's a great evening and the only way to expose WIP poems to the real world in a performance rather than page context.

Standing up in front of people to read poetry terrified me at first, although the knee trembling has slowly declined over the last year.

Which brings us to the topic of confidence.  In one view confidence is precisely that characteristic which enables us to stand in front of an audience and recite your poetry.  It is often said that it is something you either have or do not, and this is very true.

I would just like to add from my own observations, however, that ninety percent of the people who do have confidence shouldn't.

Imposter syndrome: it's what the worthwhile people have.







The difference between a poetry open mic and the Albert Hall...


...lies mainly in the grand piano.
I wish I had a grand piano here
to hide behind.  Serious props!  It must be nice
to let them take the strain of breaking
the audience's hush; to let the instrument speak,
make clear there's something here to hear
a piano could do all that for me but...
can we do better?

How about an organ?

I don't mean some cheesy Hammond
electric thing, or even a theatre organ that rises
unexpectedly through the floor to explode
your expectations,
no...  this was the Albert Hall, remember.

I mean a world-class pipe organ,
rising from the stage, stage upon stage
to fill all available space with keyboards and stops
and pipes and valves and plaster grapes and flourishes
of gilded angel's heads.  An organ which, in fact,
neither Captain Nemo,
nor the Phantom of the Opera
would be embarrassed to play.

If the instrument is grand enough
then like the most committed electronic bands
-- their banks of keyboards, mixing desks and amps --
the audience need not be sure
a performer is in there at all

and I (we're back with the organ now)
could set the manuals on automatic,
climb to a vibrating eyrie, somewhere in the pipework,
and watch the audience
through powerful binoculars
lip read who makes what aside to whom
at special moments in the tune; note
who has to make a toilet run,
which melody they choose
to cover their retreat,
and are they embarrassed.

And in this hypothetical world,
I will always play an encore
but the audience will never know I did.



2017-09-03

Sept 3rd - Engineering

Engineering

...come with me for there is much to do,
coils to degauss and pets to delouse and exoplanets
to scope and spectra to analyse
and there are needs
to edit out of the human psyche
and bugs in our genes and there are machines
to design and build and machines for planning
the mechanisms for other machines to construct
devices to make machines that fix
the faults in all our stars and all I ever wanted
was that big swivel chair with the screen
to show where we are going and one day
we'll play Thus Spake Zarathustra and one day
right there in easy reach
the big lever...







2017-04-29

NaPoWriMo - 2017 - April 25th - Antikythera and other mechanisms

Not really following any prompt here, except there was a prompt about "space" which prompted me (sic) to look through my notes for various terms and something I saw there reminded me I intended to write this.

This was all written in two sessions today, with minimal editing, so it's a bit "first draft" please forgive any built-in insanities.

I have used few Greek names and terms, not many.  I initially tried to get authentic ancient words but in the end decided the main thing I needed was two broadly suitable names.

The Antikythera Mechanism is this.  There is a theory that the ship that was wrecked may have been carrying loot from Rhodes to Rome for use in a triumphal parade staged by Julius Caesar.  I tried matching up the dates to see if that works.  It isn't clear it does, but I've incorporated that into the set-up anyway :-)  I've arbitrarily picked the time when Julius was a consul, there's no actual reason to think this true but I had to give him some title...

I do not speak Greek, especially not ancient Greek, so I have no reason to show off with it.  If I did I might have used some epigram such as:

Είναι εύκολο να ακούγεται έξυπνος σε ξένες γλώσσες

(thank you Google Translate).  Obviously I would never do that...




Antikythera, and other mechanisms


Captain Τιμόν(*) views the device

Caesar has ordered strictly, that no one turns
the handle
the technikós(***) Αλέκος(**)
staggers slightly in the swell, his hand upon
the opened cratenobody is to see
events from future time laid out.  The Gods
alone know this by right and the consul shows
due deference and decrees that no-one use
this thing save him.
  Much later when the man
was drunk, the whole crew heard him often boast
he had no choice but frequently to wind
the dials back to a century before
his birth and forward again up to today.
He claimed this as the only way to see
the mechanism hadn't suffered hurt.

(*-Timon; **-Alekos; ***-technician, modern Greek, I needed a plausibly old term but I also needed to imply the modern meaning, so this is a compromise...)


Αλέκος explains the dials

Upon this side are those things of the Earth:
above, progression of the months and years
laid out in spiral form, and more than that:
the festivals and Games at Athens,
Olympia and Rhodes.  Now lower down
another spiral shows eclipses: Sun
and Moon; dancing in the sky.  I'll turn
it round.  This side is for the heavens,
Gods, their wanderings across the night.

The Moon, its place in things, the dark and bright
phases, the motion of the Sun, through houses
of the Zodiac, and far beyond it all

fixed constellations rise and fall, throughout the year.


The sea captain's dream

Captain Τιμόν rests uneasy, his salt
and water blood uncalm, the mechanism
in his hold offers no direct harm, but a man
who's watched the heavens forty years can't
simply
sleep comfortable with ideas of gears
outside the sky.  The calendars that form
his life are woven from much softer things
the winds round certain islands, his son, his wife
and festivals that come because the town
gather; not because some metal pointer pins
them to a dial.  He turns in bed, uneasy.

Part of him knows the wind has changed;
within his dream the same unease: islands that move,
brass spins beneath the waves, a giant hand winding...


Unseasonable

The wind has changed.  The sea grows mad.  The captain
invokes Poseidon beneath his breath and grabs
the steering oar himself.  Beneath the deck
the oarsmen also pray, but Αλέκος
turns from the raging sea and guards instead
the precious crate.  Even technicians pray
but to what spirits, Gods or fates he's kept
his peace
part of the artisan's secrets
but whatever powers they are fail him.  Down
come the sails, and the oarsmen struggle more.  The lea
of any shore might save their skins. 
Τιμόν
tries first for Kythira but as fear grows
turns instead for tiny Aigila(*).  He knows
he's got there only when they hit the rocks.

(* transliteration of ancient name of Antikythera)


The technician's dream

Αλέκος sleeps so soundly when they pull
him from the sea, that all believe he'll die.
They try to keep him warm, burn sage leaves, ply
the fates with secret gestures, muttered words
they've heard the shepherds using for sick lambs.

This is no sheep, nor yet a man: technikós
who holds construction in his hands.  So deep
his charge has drowned, in sleep it takes him down

and he sees, unsurprised, a new dial: sea level
clearly marked.  The needle turns as all grows dark
around it.  In his heightened state he notices
also for the first time another gauge
"πολιτισμός", now well into decline.
He wonders for how long the dark will last,

when everything he knows has passed, how long
before technicians once again will build
machines to map the heavens?  How long until
they pull a lump of metal from the waves?

(* "πολιτισμός" - politismos: civilisation, modern Greek again...)




2017-01-13

A War to end all Worlds

Last night I finally watched a BBC program on the War Poets that I recorded in June.  It focussed not just on their poetry, but also on the landscape and events that they inhabited around the Somme: battles they fought in, what poems they wrote afterwards, where they died.

And that reminded me of this, which I think sprang from a previous time when I had been listening to Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds in close proximity to reading another account of the first World War.  It's an easy juxtaposition, Martian fighting machines against barbed wire and artillery, but I should (and do) feel a little uncomfortable about it.  I am welding together bloody history and SciFi fantasy after all.

My defence for this latter point is threefold:

  1. This was written with the intent of using the fantasy war as a mechanism to highlight the horror of the real war...
  2. Wells himself was certainly critiquing the empire building and conquest of his time...
  3. You don't get SciFi authors in front of War Crimes Tribunals*
(*Although if any ever do, you can bet the charge sheet with be spectacular.)







A War to end all Worlds


When the whistles were blowin'
and there was me
there was me and Smiggy
and the two Johns

Johnny C and Johnny F and
nothing for it
but to go over the top.
We could not see

no tripods from where we were
but we knew alright
they were out there somewhere
lumbering in

with beams and gas and voices
like foghorns boomin'
and foghorns seemed to fit
with that black gas.

Smiggy bought it first, smashed
down by steel feet
that fell amongst us sudden
in the wire

we couldn't even stop
though Johnny C
would have headed back
exceptin' I swore.

Johnny F got caught out
in the open
when two tripods came up
and burned down

where he stood.  We cowered
in the water
in a half-collapsed trench
hearing steel grind

closer to us.  Lining up
on the angle
of the trench and we knew
the Martians had us

but a squad of gunners
with a Vickers gun
had set it up quiet-like
and cut them down.

It's a beautiful machine
the Vickers gun
if you like to kill things
and that was my war.



2016-09-10

Boy/Girl/Thing

This may be the newest poem I have ever posted, I was editing it as recently as August 7th...  although, as is common for me, it had its origin some years ago and had to sit around in my subconscious/backlog until I was ready, willing and able to complete it.

This is also one of the hardest pieces of text that I've written for some time and the explanation for that is chock full of *spoilers* so stop here and go to the poem first if you want to experience it without preconceptions...



Ready now?
  OK, so this is my attempt to get beyond gender.  Gender has been one of the major social battle grounds of the late 20th and and early 21st centuries, and great progress has been made
at least in some parts of the World.

So in this poem I'm attempting to look ahead to a time when gender is completely sorted out, and I'm using the trick of writing in the voices of two intelligent machines that don't have gender.  This way they can look, as it were, from the outside.  I've also added (off stage) some sort of do-gooders who are trying to "give" gender to the two machines
presumably on the basis that it is their (human?) right but missing the point that the machines may be happier as they are...

...which of course echoes various historical cases of people thinking they know what's best for other people...

...I've even attempted to suggest that wiping over with a lint-free cloth is something of a sex act for these machines (I don't see that sex without gender is at all contradictory...) and finally, just for kicks and characterisation, one machine has a crush on the other (which again doesn't absolutely require gender.)

So why was that hard to write?  Just because English isn't designed to portray conversations between sapients without gender.  We only have the one ungendered pronoun: "it" which is far too loaded to sprinkle around unexplained.  So I had to resort to a certain amount of syntactic trickery (like assuming the person now speaking is the one whom we just just watched acting) and also repeating the two names more often than is common for casual writing.


And as it happens the whole exercise is a complete failure, because having gone to all that trouble: used gender-neutral names, avoided gendered pronouns and generally twisted the text...  I still think of one character as more male and the other as more female
—damn!







Boy/Girl/Thing


This whole damn gender thing  fucks me, says Viv,
so many different ways.  A tiny nod,
a shrug, sets sensor clusters all asway
and Chris has always been in love
and Chris will never say

one word to the machine called Vivian.
Working together now, they pull
a rusty barrel, probe the casing.
Viv tastes, grimacing; throws the tongue away.
Phenols again, we're broadly screwed
to sell this crap.  A sighwe'll have to crack
it down to short-chain feed.
A wiggle in the nether parts and Chris
has never seen a sight so fine
as hydrocarbon plant deploys.  Meanwhile, Viv

still ranting on the need for sex:
You see the bit that gets to me...
remember how they showed that vid:
two squirming pink things on a bed.
It bites an alloy thumb.  For me
the only sexy bit was how they'd come:

their car I thought was someone I'd enjoy.

And all the while poor Chris,
while not unhappy being an "it",
feels some appeal in girls and boys,
and beds; and is content to rub a cloth
across his best friend's heat exchanger grills,
but wonders if there's something more.  So asks,
and instantly feels shy: Tonight
maybe let's try again...
but this time both be boys?



2016-02-05

Feminine principle

Is this about feminism?  I don't know.

I don't like to be political.  It comes from having been brought up in science fiction and we only moved to reality when I was fifteen.  When you've sat up late at night arguing with two land squid and a talking metal box about whether the souls of extinct nihilist cacti should be allowed to marry...  well any minor differences of colour, gender or political persuasion begin to look irrelevant.

This definitely does come from challenging the idea that mechanical men should automatically be assumed to be, err, men.  Even the word "android" is inherently masculine.  "Gynoid" is the feminine equivalent and you don't hear that a lot.  "Homonoid" should probably be the correct term, but then there's "hominid".  Androids probably are hominids, which will freak the palaeontologists...

And don't get me started on the bias in assuming robots should be shaped like people—I mean it's barely true in the real world anyway.  You don't see many industrial robots in sit-down strikes.

Anyway, is this feminist?  I don't know.  Interpretation is, as ever, left as an exercise for the reader.








Feminine principle

Victoria builds a woman not from ribs.  Sugar, spice :
these also do not feature, this is a different creature...

If you have seen those sexy chromium androids,
drawn by that one guy from Japan.  Gynoids, I should say,
they're not right either, but one might do
as a starting point, although it needs some work.

Titanium blades to turbine round in thousands
of revolutions, a system always humming
if you press her with your ear.  You can also hear
the click of relays as she decides—to love or not to love—

so many losers she can't choose
who to reject first.  This is no bride for any Frankenstein,
this is Kevlar reinforcement on a spine of optical fibre.
This is nerve, in spades, and a cryogenic cool

as she slits fresh fruit with one surgical-steel nail
and raises it to bite.  You might,
and I will, envy the apple,
but, as Victoria says: that isn't the point.



2015-12-18

Down time

Black Holes - Monsters in Space
A black hole: far, far away...


It's Christmas time and there's no need...

So here it is, merry...

So, this is Christmas, and what do I think...?

Well I don't think I need formal religion to make me gather my loved ones together and hand out presents.  Midwinter is upon us and ice-giants roam the borders, muttering behind rime-encrusted beards about climate change and the rising price of air-con.

Why wouldn't you get everybody around the fire to sing and laugh and eat and drink?



To explain the same thing in a different way: a singularity lurks at the end of December, a zero-sized, zero-temperature point of infinite density, with Janus packed into it—like one of those joke canisters of spring-loaded snake.  Except it's an ancient god of narrow doors, instead of the snake; and we have to pass through to reach the verdant, sun-lit pastures of 2016.

So hold your drink in both hands, strap your mince pie into the padded receptacle, specially built into your acceleration couch, and hold your breath as I gun the engine and point the pointy end of life straight at that tiny point of rapidly approaching darkness, because here we go again...



Best Wishes Everybody!  I'll see you all, safe on the other side.








An ancient Aztec calendar:
long, long ago...
Down time

And I travelled in a bald and freak October
—the rubbing of the wind and the chafing of the skin—
where clothes supposed to keep the warmth
got soaked around my wrists and ankles.

And I have travelled via plaintive, sleek November.
I fell cold upon the empty hill, with eyes
drawn to the gaps between the stars—
even such hollow space can't chill me now.

And I did travel, solitary, through December;
deliberately I spiralled round and down—
there's a nothing-point at the centre of the maze,
an absolutist's zero, the boundary of days

—and in the ice-crystal, breath-held silence,
I waited for the calendar to turn.





2015-01-21

Lister D [writing as Mr Three Eighths]

An engine, earlier today...
I apologise in advance, the diagram to the right is for a far more modern petrol engine.

Before New Year I ran a competition over on Poets' Graves where the idea was to "Adopt a false persona for Christmas" — all the competitors entered anonymously and submitted one or more poems under a pseudonym.  We then had everybody vote for the best poems and best personae; and also a side-competition for people to try and unmask the perpetrators. 

Some of us had two false identities, just to be on the safe side; but I don't think this was really necessary as identifying anonymous poets, even people you know quite well, turns out to be surprisingly difficult... 

So...  this was one of my entries, written under the persona of "Mr Three Eighths," who is a vintage machinery enthusiast and only slightly modelled on a guy I knew at school.

This is a sonnet.  Sonnets seem to be my favourite form when I write a formal poem.  No idea why this is; except they are the most wonderfully compact, deep and rounded form.  I far more often start to write a free verse poem and subsequently discover it is a sonnet, compared to the other way around.

In case you are interested, I came third in the competition.  You can check out all the entries here, at least until we clear that forum out ready for another competition.










Lister D [writing as Mr Three Eights]

One and one half horse power and stationary
but for the necessary gentle rock
from side to side. Traditional, the case
is painted Brunswick green. Unshockingly
the magneto is the Lucas SR1
found in a sale and lovingly rewound
in three nights and the shed. A later model
fed from its fuel tank that's top mounted;
it also has chain drive. Bring it alive!
Fill the fuel, and top the water to two inches
from the rim. The governor wick and oil holes need
attention... sump, float, greaser and then drive
the flywheel back to reach 'compress'. Clench
the handle-- Ho! Who'd want a Fowler P?





Image attribution: "Single-cylinder T-head engine (Autocar Handbook, 13th ed, 1935)" by Andy Dingley (scanner) - Scan from The Autocar (Thirteenth edition, circa 1935) Autocar Handbook, London: Iliffe & Sons.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.