Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Satellites

(after Oscar Wilde, Les Silhouettes + Laurie Anderson, O Superman + Betjeman, Slough)


Etched against the dark of night
the engines glow in infrared
a thermal bloom, and filters
in the drones outline
the cars and trucks and technicals
like silhouettes against the sky.

The darkness did not mask the heat
their doom was pre-ordained;
three thousand miles away
the pilots count the kills
that they have not yet made.

Stupid kids and smarter kids
- but none as smart as bombs -
proceed along the road of death;
the wiser men remained at home
their pre-paid phones and radios
will doom them too, but not just yet.

Overhead the kestrels fly
and over them the satellites
that send the traffic that controls
the drones and telephones;
they do not need the sun to see
their eyes are not eclipsed
by rain or fog or snow.

And in our cribs the satellites
watch over us, and in the dreaded dead of night
our mums and dads sit at their screens
sending fire across the sky.

They see at night and always know
and never leave, and tell the drones
to drop the friendly bombs;
and underneath our beds the monsters howl
as blood is boiled from molten bone.

Machines of loving grace,
that skip across the edge of space;
wings over the world, like hawks
they pounce and take
their pound of flesh;
the watchers leave behind
a thousand scars that never fade
and all the world is built on scars,
tectonic plates of misery,
strata laid by satellites.