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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE DREAM MACHINE
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 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.
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,
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
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.