Category Archives: codes

Barcoded

divider with barbed wire

I wrote this poem a few years ago but looked it out and re-editied it when a friend recently mentioned barcodes. In fact, I think the first version of the poem even predated self-service checkouts. Post-covid some of it perhaps now seems to belong to a distant time, when people stood closer in the supermarket queue, and we handled small plastic dividers that were placed between our shopping and the next person’s.  Everything changes – but some of this ancient history was less than a year ago, so hopefully, it’ll ring a bell, or at least sound a familiar small electronic bleep. 

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Barcoded

Nipped out quick
checking in to 
the supermarket queue
to checkout £4.75
of Mayday indulgence.

Strategically locating
the next-customer demarcator –
this is mine now, mine alone.
In chorus, lined behind 
a suburban opera bickers:

    She is getting very bratty.
        Yes, she’s getting very bratty.
    You are getting very bratty!
    You are bratty, you are spoiled!

    She’s a proper little basket.
        Yes, a proper little basket!
    I’ve had enough now, had enough
    now, that’s enough now, that is IT!

Corner-eyed I register,
undefined hostility,
struck-through runkles 
plough furrowed brows,
enmity, eight-to-life.

Ahead a woman passes her
(it’s labeled, so we know)
        compact entrenching tool
to be blessed by blind inquisition
of that un-judgemental laser light.

Will it fortify allotment borders,
bury a lately composted doubt,
or succour deeply seeded beliefs?

Another plastic meridian drops behind,
consumer crowd control,
policing the shopping line.

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Algorithmic syncopation

syncoEnciphered from the east, Al Khwarazimi
Scores an equalibrium of balanced meters.

Hindu circles to ring our empty spaces,
Skirt bare untruths, bind absences safe and round.

Byron’s girl laces the Persian rhythm tighter,
Unspindled Holleriths punch steady big blue beats.

And now Hippolyta’s sister shadows every step
Marking where each tap may toe another line.

But joys surprised from a panache of chance,
Dancers can still out stumble clockwork dance.

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In part this came from thoughts after reading ‘No one in control: The algorithms that run our lives‘ (Hal Hodson, New Scientist 7/2/2015)


Nota Bene

nota beneFearful of forgetting I make a note,
Commit the thing, the task, the thought.
Lock away the insanity of five-fold remembering.
Ageing and augmented I sometimes doubt
My latter-day recall even measures three.

In saving this treasure of tomorrow’s requirement,
Like Mark Twain and Leonardo, like Ernest Hemingway.
Scheduling deeds for the dawn’s early dimness,
I pretend a loose binding to those threads of greatness,
By saddled-stitched fetishes of pocket stationary.

The drawer above the desk is primed with gifted blanks,
Accumulating more quickly than written requirements.
They remain welcome, fully unloaded with latent potential.
You might need these. They’re nice anyway, and,
You never know, one day you might have an idea!

Old notebooks dog-ear the attic in stacks.
Thin blue school ones, covers bag-buffed to a soft peach,
Osmaroid medium-broad quinked stories and histories.
Inscrutable red-lined reporter’s pads, perpendicular Arabics
Of alien Pitman’s encoding other voices in graphic silences.

Listed, struck-through, fighting the mind’s failing,
Like climbers’ friends springing safety into an overhanging face.
Notes holding fast beyond memory of purpose,
Tangled loops of taught Linear B, struggling to grasp
The expired desires of once dynamic intent.

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Detection

lucidaAn electronic pulse indicates
Life is supported, if uncheered. Her eyes are taped,
While field boundaries are traced and recorded.
Is there anybody there?

Fish, dog, monkey, driving the car.
Consciousness is scored on a sliding scale.
Daydreaming, life drawing, man, woman, machine,
A target only in transition. Like walking, a lifelong fall.

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QR y3k

qr-and-ringsPurpose unclear: possible votive object.

Square relief deeply carved
Granite cut by coherant optics:
Unkown graphic motif: perhaps a game or puzzle?

Codicil, early post industrial letterforms,
Printed plaintext, deciphered:
‘Our story (some additional components required)’

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