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1st April, 2020

Peter Znamenskiy - Own work, Public Domain

In normal times we can expect obedient
squadrons, in silent faithfulness, to do
their duty in repairing the ingredient
that bears the codes; the daily damage to
the chains of information that denote
us and exactly what we are. Remote
from us, forgotten, their activity;
they’re blithe and automatic over years,
intelligencers (docile engineers),
all working with a perfect industry.

We can accept our programmed obsolescence
and Hayfleck’s limiting when ripeness comes;
harder to baulk at such guessed-at senescence
when Death's promised full-stop resolves our sums
and consummates our grammar. A known end,
to a parametered-type mind, will lend
resistance to (without it, atrophied
and shapeless) sense. For not to know we die,
to be unparsed, would terrify;
to mean at all needs context to succeed.

But when, awry, a strand of DNA,
missteps, in absent mind, to lose the plot,
then is unleashed (that unknown, secret day)
a disinhibited ‘immortal.’ Not
inclined to toe the line this megalo
obeys blind evolution’s rules, and so
runs riot; a renegade, an order-trasher,
hell-bent on self-promotion; vandal who,
unschooled, conducts a vulgar palace coup,
And shows himself a boorish party-crasher.

Abandoning the logos and its codes,
illiterate of sense, a tumour juts
its snout into a library, discommodes
systems of form and information put
in order by design. An ignorant
Yahoo, gross presence, strayed abroad with scant
regard for sense or system, overturning
the delicately loaded stacks that house
our tales. How guess what world-mistake aroused
this blinkered drunk, so wholly undiscerning?

Precarious person is alloyed with flesh,
a farting, salty livestock; animal
whose pleasures, intimately, are enmeshed,
whose fierce and briny loves, hold us in thrall
so joyously. We husband it, our beast,
until the siege-craft of this arriviste,
mole-like, surprises us inside our keep
from unexpected quarters of ourselves;
our person’s home wherein he delves,
to sabotage our balance and to reap

the cruellest harvest from distress. We learn
a queasy intuition from this Fifth
Column; a knowledge we discern
as inescapable and that comes with
our plight—when fragile cells are undermined,
our selves, and what we like to call our mind’s
attempted too. There’s barely separation
between our person and our person. A
great miracle being fouled will bring dismay
and, in this case, a double consternation.

This poem was previously published in the November 2019 edition of  The New English Review

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