The Scent of People

Larner feared removal
of the scent of people
in crowded wiki articles

Dumb grazing animals
hardly move from hoof to hoof
with their heads down

At this bar
three men sit
before chemical beer
misdirected and under-lit

Tommy Robinson spits
as poor aims are raised
by squaddies at politicians

and three men take turns
to buy another Peroni
without exchanging words

We know everything
by what we read and watch
whilst bent to scent-free pastures

The Word for ‘Search’

This abstruse epoch of endless information
is a virulent strew of ingrowing metadata –
It is thrown wide like blindly hurled seeds

We have set the volume to unheard of levels
and whine about the pain as the cooled servers
draw enough kilojoules to run a billion light bulbs

This is our second flood – set to lift much higher –
an oily risen tide upon remote isles – floating nodes
litter the no longer habitable low lying atolls –

those last places wired into free knowledge –
they are being removed by our unedifying worship
of the lords of the clouds – those five fat silos

And when we have drawn the last of the gold –
the silica – the bauxite and life from this place
we will no longer have any word for ‘search’

Being Eighteen

Being eighteen in 1982
was easier than in 2018 –
we had less stuff to plug in –
sniping critics were blocked
by the turn of a front door key
and loud parents muted by
the stereo being set to ten

Our whole past was aligned
spine out – but not in public –
on the overhead shelves –
bound in worn LP sleeves
to which we returned on those
solemn dead-end Sundays –
before it was switched on

Old Devices

We’d race to get the telephone –
stating our number as rote taught –
our mother in her poshest voice
but rough for sister talk

Relative news transmissions –
but not intended to be heard –
I knew nothing of kindred facts
’til I stole truth from her words

We were ignorant between acts –
maybe flattening an irksome book –
we’d stare through the yellowed nets
whilst half-tuned to loosened talk

We tugged at the reluctant drawers
where our history was lost and found –
there tucked between old table mats –
sepia smiles were loosely bound

News bulletins marked the hours
or were shoved through the letterbox –
that narrow window on the world –
ink fears of the Eastern bloc

Ignorance was a short-lived bliss
in those disconnected times –
no algorithms on our wrists
to redress the truths and lies