SASHA STILES / 2 POEMS
A nurse slips the silver tip into the vein,
my arm’s soft crook, a nook converging
networked lines. Blood fills the tubes
noiseless as ever, mute ebb, dumb flow.
The machine whirs. The doctor’s stern
downturned mouth says its piece:
your platelet count’s still low.
I already know: two contusions on my
thigh have browned and lingered.
As days pass the body fluctuates,
long hairs drop from comb’s teeth to floor,
nails grow, belly flattens and expands.
A small cut mends. Meanwhile,
prints of a lover’s thumb and forefinger
having developed their rich dark hue
hang about. Malingerers, they cling
to proof of touch—an outside force
compelled on skin turned inside job.
Shadow of his presence. Pain
without real danger. A contained bleed,
red corpuscles blossoming secretly.
My everlasting need to worry
the fragile membrane, hard-pressed. Memory
mapped on my hide, every bump, every blunt trauma
When the count goes up
afterimages subside. When it’s low they’ve got nowhere to go.
can I go without,
can I stand to lose? Calm thrum
of inner workings, computer-like hush,
bug’s invisibility until it manifests
an attempt to recover — black and
blue screen of death — system error.
The Cloud, like any other cloud, gathers rain,
exhausted servers hotboxing their environs.
Polluted air, perfumed shroud, hangs heavy,
pregnant, grey, struggles to take a full breath.
Soon it will pour, not the onrush of info
but real fat drops swelling the sea.
See, I do love my phone to death, ’til that part
where I drown, tethered to personal effects.
When I’m melancholy like this, it’s so nice
to have a toaster that talks back—to dumb down
while everything around me wises up. To own
a microwave that really hears me. Listen,
all these smart-ass devices insult the intelligence,
yet I lament the inert’s lack of inner life, consider
out of service range a kind of funeral service.
Listen, I’m keening for every extinct version
of myself, unborn generations already obsolesced.
This plastic on key, waterborne, will outlive us all.
I’m never really offline, am I? There’s always
a cave mouth’s-worth of blue and green eyes
blinking under the sideboard, fixed on us.
I’m data’s girl now, encrypted, tucked in
and out of sight, but they’re coming for
the power plants, the pacemakers, this plaint,
fingers tapping a dirge like music. This rabbithole
I’ve dug feels grave, walls sloping steeper,
screen gone dim, threatening to flicker. Or
is it shelter? There’s just too much to know,
not enough hours. There’s just too much glow
for a deep sleep. My heart pounds, all racing pulse,
close thunder, when I reach my nightly cataclysm,
when I dream of some unknown dark. I wish
on a red warning light, will it to last. I clutch flesh
for comfort, pray for the first time in my life,
crawl under love like the security blanket it is.
A privacy, a protection. This old, old world
has seen more than anyone alive remembers.
If these are our final moments on earth,
where to, next?
Sasha Stiles is an innovation strategist, creative director, artist, and writer. Her work has recently appeared in Copper Nickel, Meridian, Rattle.com, The Missouri Review Online and elsewhere. The daughter of a Kalmyk mother and British father, and a graduate of Harvard and Oxford, she writes frequently about technology, transhumanism, and futurist philosophy, and is currently developing an AI poetics project in collaboration with Bina48. Her debut poetry collection, Technelegy, is forthcoming.