Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Competition entry: The Screamshake

This is a competition entry. The remit: write a poem of no more than 50 lines on 'improving the human'.

The hospital screamshakes

with a newly born blamelessly cannonballed

into blinding lights and cooing parent arms.

Doctors with dead disco eyes take a blood-reading

and inject the goo into the Parent DNA Database.

The results blink as the numbers crunch.

A telephone is grabbed and buttons punched

followed by a clipped robotical relay of lifetimes:

radical affiliations...

autonomous collectives...

millitant... previous...

92.7% likelihood of subversive behaviour...

Bursting opening double doors:

Leather law stampfeet

bounce echoes down clinic corridors

and standstill, warmless

retrieving the newborn danger.

Stamped, numbered, barcoded, taken.

The newborn bawls through her history:

At two: Screamshakes her glasswall foster home.

At ten: Screamshakes every shoved warpraganda.

At twelve: Screamshakes the psychologists

with their needles, microchips

and smileless, crippled faces.

Gradually, things get easier. Slower. Number...

Eventually, reaching sixteen, the newborn

shuts down.

Siphoning of revolutionary impulse: complete.

Blank pupils – check.

Drained skin – check.

Manifest obedience – check.

Let loose, a moving shadow,

she trickles down.

Rainlashed streets ache her feet.

Any shelter, any shelter: a tree, a bus stop, a man...

Wrinkles etched deep in young flesh.

But the screamshake still buzzes violent -

a constant itch, a perpetually germinating plume of rage.

Autopilot: a can of petrol in hand,

box of matches in pocket.

She swerves towards a dim, half-recognised memory -

a hospital -

- to turn the foundations of history to ashes.

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