Androids Take Title in Robocup

Sisyphus rolls his ball of gigabytes
up a twisting trail of black and white striped bar codes,
stops halfway to the top, watches bombs exploding in the malls,
wipes his brow once and starts climbing again,
hoping for two weeks off in April.

“Press one to talk to your probation officer,
real estate agent, meat grinder,
insurance broker, fresh fish
factory frozen
salmon pâté supplier…
And, for your added safety,
this poem is being monitored.”

There’s a pin code crisis in the United States.
Like baby birds trained to push color coded buttons
in ever increasingly complex patterns
to earn their ration of seed, we
navigate through space and time
wearing remote control necklaces
while Mullahs and Evangelists divide
up our bones in the back alley.
and all foreigners are led off
with sandbags duct taped over their heads.

Daily hurdles have been set up along the way,
secret codes needed to access bank accounts,
secret codes needed to turn on
toaster ovens,
log on to the net,
activate hair dryers,
start the Humvee,
blow-dry Nagasaki and the World Trade Center
to fine ash…

Microwave cellular satellites
jam our heads full of expiration dates,
area codes, zip codes, and laser generated memories.
Ex-mother’s-in-law maiden name
secret passwords are required
to call home,
open storage unit electric gates,
change channels,
feed the goldfish.

Silicon sentinels watch us
leaving stores, driving illegally in carpool lanes.
Because to glitter is suspect,
our pupil diameters are recorded
when we enter stadiums
where we eat genetically engineered corn dogs,
and watch the circus clowns with oversize shoes entering data.
we receive
our fines
in the mail.

The religious wars continue,
shrapnel in the cappuccino,
bullet holes in the codex,
blood drips nightly
down the entertainment center.

“Kill them at the root.”,
the anchor intones
caught in his own
well greased mobius strip.

For everyone’s protection,
unmarked vans cruise neighborhoods
scanning for embedded money data stripes…
…and when more than the
permitted amount is found
reality TV camera crews
knock down doors,
smash furniture,
increase their ratings,
selling record breaking amounts
of dish soap, and antacid bromides.
Meanwhile the Apocalypse is up three points.

We toss and turn in our beds at night,
sleeping fitfully with overhead aerial surveillance choppers
hovering in our dreams like the unblinking eyes of an angry God.

Because now while world leaders huddle in the Coliseum
singing “Imagine” and Ray Charles blows kisses to Shimon Peres
in this world of fear and death,
where all strangers are suspect,
all valises ticking,
all beliefs culpable,
we hide in our cubicles
shivering, naked and terrified

tangled in a science fiction labyrinth of brightly colored buttons
while Mullahs and Evangelists divide
up our bones in the back alley
and everyone is led off to the sidelines
with sandbags duct taped over their heads.

© barbato, san pablo etla, oaxaca, mexico

Music by Christopher Aitken
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