They seek exits from their flesh:
and the internet is compressed text
each hyperlink blue-slurpee sweet,
that fact a hook-duck, this poll
tipped by bowling at the coconut
shie. Win information! Roll home
with a rumour! By hitting the button,
bright lights, rubber hammer.
‘Make me the next
like Robocop’ one whispers to the sugar night.
The Ringmaster flickers:
eyes now LCD screens,
levels of light pass through
to the second substrate, scatter
when he blinks. Narrow visor nobly set
on the woman at the kissing booth,
who does not look at him.
Swaggers into each full tent like
sturdy corruption malware, spits
razor sharp letter-shards, causes crowds
to spill their drinks. Malfunctions, briefly
opens his mouth to mete out justice, screams:
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A PROPERTY
DO YOU OWN THIS WEBSITE YOUR LICENCE
YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHO OWES YOU PPI
He sits, ogles
the flickering sentient bot that pours the last
dregs from the raw text tap and sings for tips.
Staggers, pixelated, out to where
the kissing booth is closed. No fear.
He’ll locate her later, after hours
her quiet tent, his virtual firearm
glistening in the soft lights overhead
or else what is endless lonely chaos good for?
Under his breath he starts to sing:
How did we do?
Enter your feedback here to win
what may or may not occur:
Serve the public trust, protect the innocent, uphold the law.
Humouring him in his metal suit, Ringmaster says:
‘Nice shooting son, what is your name?’ so quiet
it sounds like the bump of bumper cars
the hiss of the Ferris wheel heard from the edge
where the fair-lights do not reach.
Alice Tarbuck is a writer living in Edinburgh. Most recently, she has been shortlisted for the Jupiter Artland Poetry Prize, and work is forthcoming from Zarf, 3elements Review and Antiphon. She is part of Edinburgh based writing collective, content work produce form.