Rose Kelleher

Talking to the Machine

They were closer to the machine back then,

the old programmers.

You hear them grumbling over sandwiches,

brushing crumbs from diagrams

drawn up by callow system architects

whose goal, it seems, is infinite abstraction:

a box for man, a box for the machine,

an endless chain of boxes in between.

How they used to love their work! Long hours

in solitary, silent contemplation,

writing in a language that few knew;

sometimes tested by a bug, tormented

almost to madness, giving up, and then

behold! the burning bush of inspiration.

Things are different now,

with programs writing programs, APIs

to APIs; nobody pokes core

directly anymore. Sometimes in secret,

at work, or even after they retire,

they practice, like ascetics on retreat

who forage for wild blueberries and grubs

and rub two sticks together to make fire.

Rose Kelleher © 2009


Loathsome creature, crawling from its burrow

to scavenge in the gutter.

Sneaky, snaggle-toothed, slavering, slimy, slothful,

belly down in the filth it loves, it slides

like shit from a sphincter,

lapping at puddles with its hateful tongue.

Dreaded creature, frightening innocent children,

the sight of it dragging itself along the roadside

--always at night, the coward--

enough to make our white-haired mothers cry.

Look at its toadlike skin, covered with pustules

that burst when we pelt it with stones,

leaving behind a trail of blood and fetor

which will draw horseflies later -- its parting shot

at us. Us, of all people! We who have been kinder

than anyone else would be to such a thing.

We who have suffered so much.

Rose Kelleher © 2009