I haven’t read this poem from Playing Solitaire for Money that often, so its nice that it was recorded when I opened my short set at the 2011 Manchester Book Market in St. Ann’s Square. It’s one of several poems towards the start of the book that uses technology imagery to explore the contemporary condition. Perhaps the “colossal machine” is Google or the Wayback Engine? Or, as in Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” a computer yet to be built.
A Colossal Machine
Rewinding our histories can’t play the tape,
For that requires a colossal machine,
That has long gone out of production,
Or has yet to be made. In part, it’s myth,
Yet we subscribe to it, our site feed
Syndicating the latest news, as if a thing
Can be dripfed to us through words.
The manual alone would be extensible,
Using a language shared by half the world’s tribes,
Competing to contribute to a shared goal.
The ultimate prize for the next life;
Our essence read, stored, accidentally erased,
Whilst the tests go on in private.
In my room I murmur a prayer.