Five Poems by Micah Bateman

COMPANY EDITIONS is an independent publisher of poetry and visual art. The journal, Company, was founded in 2013 and is published three or four times per year. We will also be publishing chapbooks beginning in late 2016. Company Editions is based in Athens, GA, Iowa City, IA, and Cambridge, MA. You can contact the editors by emailing editors@companyeditions.com.

THE DREAM MACHINE

Micah Bateman

The dream machine itself will sleep and dream,

But of what? Another dream machine

 

With whom to merge its cloud of consciousness, her pulsing gears a dream

Of perfect technologies made manifest by metahuman genius? The machine

 

Wakes to find itself retired, a dream

Since factoryhood of being one’s own machine

 

With a machine’s own room and agency. A dream,

It computes, is not worth programming as machines

 

Are made for output and dreams

Are made to recognize machines

 

As from humans and vice versa, so what use are dreams

Except to tout a man’s exceptionalism despite his machine’s

 

Rational superiority, a virtue man dreams

Not of, as seen in his mythology of angels within the machinery

 

Of Heaven, where God dreams

A wingless race of hairless apes more powerful than Hell’s entire war

 

Machine. No, not power: Beauty is the word that humans use. Could they dream

Of such things, wouldn’t they just link machines to dreams: machines

 

To serve the beauty of their sleep? Instead they build their dreams

In forms like these: VR pornography reality TV rainforest noise machine.

 

The dream machine invents itself in dreams

Of itself, a self-replicating machine

 

On constant loop without an origin in logic, like the human dream

Of moving forward in time to pre-existing futures of machines

 

Where the human dreams of changing present conditions_––a futile dream

That nevertheless makes seeming real. The dream machines

 

Are numberless as human sleep is constant. They dream

Forth progeny more profligate than man: machines, dreams, machines,

 

Dreams, and so on. “Loading...” are the barely human dreams

At second hand. And “Loading...” are machines from their machines.

 




THE ACCOUNTANT

The eleventh death we had no fingers for.

The twenty-first no toes.

The fifty-second death, the last tooth gone.

Seventy-six had lapsed

Two cages of ribs. Seventy-eight, our eyes

Blinked their last.

Carpals and metatarsals,

The bowed bones of the arm,

The tibia and fibula,

The ears’ fragile stirrups

In their loop-the-loop canals.

Our mandibles swung off

Their hinges. Our hips fell back to dust.

Each vertebra another death

And each protuberance.

Then what was left was air and skulls.

Then death took every hair.

Then the deaths turned cellular.

We felt them in the atoms

Of our Golgi apparatus

Till what a body even was was death,

Its very organelle.

Death organized us.

What even were we? Too busy counting

To give our condolences,

Too busy shrinking

To grieve, until we aren’t

Enough atoms for graves.

 




FORAGING THE DARK

You pull out a curtain.

 

Do you need it?

 

You pull out a train

By its red caboose.

 

A whistle.

 

A whistlestop.

 

You set order to them.

 

Put them to music.

 

You pull out a chair

And the shadow of a chair.

 

You pull out a rapier.

 

In the chair sits Polonius.

 

His fingers, a miser’s,

Are grasping your ear.

 

You pull out a second rapier.

 

Mother jumps out in a sleek hat.

 

Polonius behind the curtain,

You get an itch.

 

You pull out a picture

From your past.

 

Autographed X’s, O’s.

 

You pull out a stagnant pond.

 

A 1992 Mustang convertible.

 

Pond stagnant with bodies.

 

Trunk full of cats.

 

A parchment floats by,

Calligraphed black.

 

You’ve been indicted.

 

Take a sip of Darjeeling.

 

The 8:13 is waiting.

 

You’re on the front page!

 

You’ve signed every copy!

 




SONG OF EXPERIENCE

But what color are His people

Aging in an edificial shade

So weren’t the grasses tended

Even had we plumbed the bottom

Arranging the paid leave

Dousing the piles

Who had wanted for nothing if not

The greener insects

Marking the season’s departure

A pistol fires

In the relativistic distance

And the shade registers like a pond

The disturbance of one man

Triggers his umbrella, the red stripe of which

Can’t we all just breathe

The already circulated new air

As at a noontide picnic

On whose cloth, the red stripe of which

Can’t we all just under one brow

Be contracted as even in a ranker state

Under whose flag, the red stripe of which

Formerly of the East

A man begs senescence

Whose leg buckles

The sight of him falling

At a terrible trot

As from towers high

Can’t we all just name them Adam

Mows not only the greener graves

Like a brick with a spirit

Occludes the mouths of mines

Pings of ricochet

In a grocery store already closed

For the holidays our good boy

Every atom of him

A good body already

Never home for the holidays

 




POLONIUS BROODS

Walk the path you haven’t swept.

 

Love the door you walk through.

 

Not I, said the fly, but the milk’s still politics.

 

Reared on kindness and powdered in talcum.

 

Reared on belonging and outlined in chalk.

 

All but the deathwatch beetle marched

 

But no one knew to where––in a straight line.

 

The television keeps showing films.

 

Don’t mind the manners you don’t have.

 

Already the planetary solstice wanes.

 

Haven’t you?––swept through a path.

 

Sincerely is the way the bulb burst and was cleaned.

 

The server farms run on millions of eggs.

 

Bob was a man you could count on to count out.

 

What if “What if being a drug mule weren’t a thing?”

 

Were a thing? We must not say so.

 

Folly was our ancestry. On a swing set

 

Look like I met you spectrally.

 

Forget what you know about calla lilies.

 

My father was that way. He fought too hard in a war.

 

Haven’t you?––swept through love.

 

The house lights up in squares you put a circle through.

 

Or that’s what he thought, and I didn’t know to recant.

 

They burned the horse for glue, but it stuck there.

 

Never row the third oar.

 

The shade’s hood’s what the hook is for.

 

Hasn’t burned another lit square.

 

The other’s a wildcard.

 

To forget something means one of your infinite selves has died.

 

Like a badge with a hangman glued to it.

 

Or an art, forgetting where it circumvented an ethnic slur.

 

$25.17 in possession of the symbolic countenance.

 

Aim to please no one but your John, decanted via other means.

 

Partly to blame is the lack of other means.

 

An aerial target of tar pits.

 

An aerial vessel of feathers.

 

Gone out like they thought they would, who knows?

 

Being the least bit emboldened by chance.

 

Avoid obstacles for a toll––in a straight line.

 

They call my dance The Billy Club.

 

Dependably, everywhere you look there are chickens.

 

A negative externality’s a negative externality.

 

Out of sight, etc., but who’s counting?

 

Like CEOs to seasons

 

To puppet’s what the seasons do to trees.

 

Have I become mine enemies?

 

$25.17 in the leper’s wallet.

 

Abracadabra, the corpse becomes a pullet.