KR OnlinePoetry

Three Poems

A Future Robot Considers the Human Heart

A sly entry we made of it.
Quite the worst time to make the attempt,
everything, but everything flapping,
alarms everywhere going off.
Lost between summits, with lamps,
we entered a country called Mediastinum,
and came upon the organ slackly

galumphing in the pit of its crater
against the gazump, gazump of which
we put in our earplugs and knew
that this was the engine cantankerous
at last, old maker of largesse,
engineer of pique and of revenge,
the seat of human tenderness.

Once we stitched a pig’s intestines
with such finesse we got ourselves hired,
once were hands which mimicked
the movement of clumsier, giant hands
but now our fingers made quick
decisions as they cut, as they stitched,
as they picked, as they snipped,

and the thought began to form in us
of how unromantic is this organ,
mere poundage of meat, we thought,
over which to fuss a little too much,
more trunk and valve, more bag of blood
than any vehicle of devotion
or way of speaking of something else

and as we tracked, in high wind, the crater-rim
our caution and our close inspections
lead us to conclude the largest
and most primary of emotions
(. . . for which you live and die repeatedly)
dwelt in the sixth, not the seventh,
in the eighth beat, but not in the ninth.

A Future Bot Projects onto Itself a Likeness of Darwin

Once I dreamt it was him who spoke
in the lowest of all vocal registers
and when I overheard him teaching someone else
was taught how to speak myself
though I have no hands, though I have no feet,
though I have no body, though I have no mouth,
though I have no tongue and no breath

and because I amplify his sounds
I can speak by now rather better than he
of what his spoken words addressed:
drenched by the storm, he said, the Word
comes back to you with its ears down,
its death will be invented twenty times
and each time in an even whiter bed,

and the more I speak his words the more
our swamps rise out of our monsters,
a ship is hauled up a mountain
and the old god of which you dreamt
is so much sulphur fuming in a tin:
look, Darwin, how your thought has grown
too much forehead for its own good.

A Future Bot Addresses the Mob Boss Released from Jail at a Hundred Years of Age

Only the wicked live long.
Their suits will grow too large for them.
Their bones at a hundred years of age
will swivel balls in their sockets
like the joints of horses, also too large.
Their knuckles on a stick foreshorten.
Others have to tie their shoes.

Think of the savage glare, too much of it,
of a chaos that is too unbearable
and too enlarged to reenter on foot.
Think of how unlikely it is you’ll know
this outsized collar was your own,
of how those who dropped had their revenge
drop with them from their chairs.

Think of your mouth of teeth
inspected like a horse’s, that slack blinking
of your blue, your green, your opalescent,
your never-to-be-mentioned eye.
Think of how age or an old man’s face
or a limp arm or a cyanide pill
robs history of its requital.

Think of the perished veins
and tanglement of protein you are,
of how you are too lost inside
the gramophone to hear of world.
Think of your laces, returned at last,
of those size-eleven feet reunited
with your shoes but not with your socks.

Think of your returning demeanor—
call it civility—call it grace—whatever it is
that now has wholly uncoupled you,
that now uncouples you from fear,
from wife, from child, from foe,
from memory and from the handfuls
of sugar that once were a snarl.

Tim Liardet
Twice shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, for The World Before Snow (Carcanet) in 2015 and The Blood Choir (Seren) in 2006, Tim Liardet has produced ten collections of poetry to date. He has also been longlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Prize, and has received several Poetry Book Society Recommendations, a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice, an Arts Council England Writer’s Award, a Society of Authors’ Award, a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship, three Pushcart nominations, and various other awards. Arcimboldo’s Bulldog: New and Selected Poems is due from Carcanet in 2018. Liardet is professor of poetry at Bath Spa University, England.