at the start
of a century
(Have a nice day, Walt Whitman)
calendar has granted us this
opportunity for celebration
which is several years late according to the
and carries all the significance of a car’s odometer
clicking over to a particular string of zeroes,
let us embrace the accident of convenient
numbers and sing at the start of a century!
has a target audience.
It is for not the family which smilingly eats the
latest breakfast cereal together
and for whom the choice of a new brand of
dishwasher powder is a significant
and life-enhancing decision,
for I say unto you, they have their reward.
when you thought no soap powder could
wash any whiter,
when your woollens have so much bounce you
have to strap them down in the chest
around the lid of your shaving foam its says
Good Morning to you in four different
not for the young man driving a fast car
with an open roof
whose companion’s long hair will later be rinsed
clean of atmospheric pollution by a widely
advertised type of conditioning shampoo,
for I say unto you, they have their reward.
when your dog's favourite food is the first
choice of eleven out of ten breeders,
when you thought no biscuit could give you
another crumb of comfort,
then we bring you one more flavour to savour,
turning towards the camera, our smiles, like our
snacks, now even cheesier—
the small and ordinary and bewildered.
It is the voice of one crying in a maisonette:
are you, Katie of the Oxo ads,
shaking your head indulgently at Philip,
whose pains could all be cured by Anadin?
Our souls cry out for you!
blueprint of the last century was drawn
in the one before.
Babbage computed its parameters.
Daguerre snapped its image on his
Bell rang it up demanding Come here I need you.
Freud placed it on his couch and checked its
As an infant, Wilbur and Orville flew it in the rain
at Kitty Hawk.
many of the children died young.
Only the lucky survive—
little Josef, little Adolf, little Vladimir Ilyich.
Benito is a darling, but so bossy!
He'll be a leader one day, you'll see!
shaped by those who dreamed of a
and by those who saw that such a thing must
who guessed that a change of heart was easier
in a medical than a spiritual operation,
that we could split matter in two leaving the
mess all over the Pacific,
and that finally we would sit at our
staring at our most intimate reflections,
secure at last in the anonymity of total revelation.
worship daily at the shrine of our one-eyed
We pray by phone or postcard, though seldom
get an answer.
The chosen ones win holidays or seats at
It is encouraging how readily our children have
taken to this religion.
course we ration what the children watch.
No sex or violence or mindless rubbish
only positive things like nature programmes,
where animals mate and kill and eat each
your credit card ready and call toll free!
Now back to New York and here's Matt!
Missing you already!
new knowledge breaks existing laws,
and later everyone will say they knew it all
the superior man understands what is right,
the inferior man understands what will sell.
Curtain has been torn down and
replaced with one bought from Ikea,
where at least former communists will find the
length of queues reassuring,
and everyone is famous now for less than
Spector he say
Da doo ron ron ron,
da doo ron ron.
Community has been lost
standing in line at Brussels airport as taxis stream
past the hoardings of its endless construction.
A Dane remonstrates with a Spanish colleague
about the actions of the Nomination
while the cold wind jumps the long queue and
combs out his thinning hair.
Mitchell she say
it's just a borderline,
America eats a glazed donut in Penn Station,
waits for a taxi outside Madison Square Gardens,
is taken by a turban’d driver across
beneath which Walt Whitman’s ghost rides
the ferry, his crocodile eyes twinkling.
land of the free, community is defined
we take an interest in you only if you do not
have the necessary paperwork,
or if you will help us stop people doing
otherwise in every possible respect you are on
every screw-up is a commercial opportunity,
and every bankruptcy an incentive.
The great high priest of the market will give
and every bagel vendor will have his IPO.
you need is money.
All you need is money.
All you need is money.
All you need is money.
average income of the world’s poorest fifty
countries is a dollar a day;
entire nations inhabit the tiny margins of
breathing in shallow fractions of a euro, dollar
us our debts,
as we forgive those
who forgive our debts.
minding the store.
Not those who sit in panelled board-rooms, or
give instructions to their overworked
The brightest minds are forming global strategies
for marketing winsome cuddly toys.
The economies of whole continents survive on
the things that destroy them,
tobacco, alcohol, cocaine and tourists hoovering
this is progress and the world into which we
joyfully bring our slippery and wrinkled
and do so at a rate which is mathematically
one thousand million Chinese can be
99 years a hundred metres will be run in
eight seconds by a woman.
In 99 years a computer the size of a matchbox
will manage Europe.
In 99 years we will take our holidays on the
Norwegian Riviera while our holograms
keep our appointments at virtual business
In 99 years we will choose the colours of our
childrens’ eyes and be afraid to look
unthinkable becomes thinkable.
The thinkable becomes see-able.
The see-able becomes do-able.
The do-able becomes done.
The done becomes the done thing.
West’s strategy is to pull the covers over its
head and call for momma,
and momma comes bringing baseball caps and a
hundred kinds of beer.
Entertainment is anaesthetic so we feel no pain
but run on like an athlete with cortisone injected
into each of his rupturing joints.
Father Julian he say
The world is at its last gasp,
though to be fair he said this 16 centuries ago.
control people become almost
Networks mate and reproduce and the air chokes
Simon he say
These are the days of miracles and wonder
and don't cry, baby, don't cry.
lives because of a medical
for the lack of the price of which in another
country a hundred children daily drink a
deadly water cocktail,
and the transplant patient’s doctor calls with
someone has died, young and healthy in a
in the real world is the history of women
It is passed down in the pain of childbirth from
mothers' mothers' mothers.
The child's body nurtured for two decades then
to be exploded in a moment or sent home
broken beyond repair.
the first century that has been reviewed
in real time,
and this will be the first to be replayed in
We rebuild the images of our virtual past until we
cannot tell it from the actual,
and everything will be connected to everything else from an infinite number of points of view.
Julian of Norwich chat room say
All shall be cool,
And all manner of thing shall be cool.
unlocked the secrets of the births
and plumbed the immensity of space,
but is it greater than the distances travelled
across the cold expanse between the
still-forming stars of the mind’s nebulae?
In these days of limitless technology the artist
still sketches the bird,
and the camera films the artist sketching,
and we look through the camera at the artist
sketching the bird
and we sense the disproportion but do
rendered by Pound
what is the use of talking,
there is no end of talking,
there is no end of things in the heart.
a place is just a co-ordinate on a map until it
is understood with sorrow:
Aberfan Belsen Chernobyl Dunblane Enniskillen
Galipoli Hiroshima Jonestown Kosovo
Lockerbie MyLai Nagasaki Omagh
Passchendaele Stalingrad Vukovar Waco—
the alphabet is almost complete.
the universal son looks on from the
scaffold of his terrible creation,
while the women bear the pain of the god who
dies of these injustices,
and ambition rattles like dice at the foot of
is the greatest trick of all.
We think that to name it is to know it and that to
measure it is to master it, and we
It is the unwelcome companion that wakes us
each morning to try out its latest product,
and remains at our heels until we lie down each
night exhausted by its constant opportunities.
We mark its passing with rockets that flare and
glitter amazingly and then are utterly gone.
Leunig he say
Nothing can be loved at speed.
from Washington DC runs through
places with long names and short histories,
past the trees in Maryland in late October
with leaves of every possible shade of yellow,
gold, red, orange and vermilion,
which were there the day the motorcade passed
by the grassy knoll,
and on the day when the smoke cleared at
and on the day Santa Maria slipped out of the
harbor at Cadiz
on a damn fool’s errand searching for a damn
fool’s dream of gold.
Love is a comprehensive technology.
wind brings a storm of leaves onto
and the trees in the park are stripped beneath
an ice-blue sky.
We know the seasons of our life behave no
differently, though we clutch at immortality:
our spring comes in our children, theirs in theirs.
Deliver us from evil.
distance between two people is the
space where love flourishes or dies
according to what fills it,
and the price of love is unbearable,
and the world we have seen is an illusion but it is
all that we have
thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
The section "The unthinkable becomes thinkable..." is quoted from an unknown source.
© Godfrey Rust 1999, email@example.com. See here for permissions.