Body of Work
I want you to see me
for what my words are. Who am I? It doesn't matter.
Don’t peek at the cruel facts
that will be on my gravestone.
My carbon body will be sheathed in earthworms,
but you’ll find me illuminated
in black ink and reams of white.
I don't want to stand in front of you
wearing my skin. You'd see my skull
peeking out through my teeth;
my bones garbed in lump-afflicted flesh.
You’d see fabric pulling taut over
my breasts and moles and collapsed veins.
You'd breathe in my pheromones,
exuded without permission.
My blood would be pumping,
lymph pulsing from node to node.
Clothe me in quatrains instead. The body
My writing exudes no epiphanies. Poems stay
on pristine paper until coffee spills or air pollutes.
Then they get printed again,
ink resting on crisp new vellum souls.
I don't want you to stand before me,
every day until my skin grows gossamer
and paper-thin. If you did,
you would see each hair on my head turn as white
as poetry pages. My body of work
will not be reborn.
In The Future I Will Forget
Oh hi there, person who I never want to see again,
fancy seeing you here, in this place where I come all the time
& you are an interloper.
It’s my restaurant / post office / yoga class / bar / coffee shop / party / sidewalk
in front of my own house,
& you are uninvited,
yet you act as if you have the right to be here:
to walk these streets, breathe this air,
inhabit these thoughts.
Just return to that perfect life without me,
our non-intersecting Venn diagram,
fate of all ex-lovers / ex-best friends,
& fade, ex nihilo.
I’ll do my part and pretend I don’t see you.
It will be a delightful future when I need not pretend,
when I’ve forgotten your name, face, and smell,
& pass by you blithely.
They gathered in community for a protest on a sunny winter morning. They had signs. Slogans. Heartfelt emotions. They didn't see that their protest was in analog and the world was already beyond digital. They thought that a list would be made. They protested the list. The idea of a registry.
Inside the towers and the bunkers and the cubicles, there weren't lists. There were massive datasets being mined. You can't shed your last name so easily. Khan. Nour. Omar. Abdullah. Nor can you shed your travel history, nor shopping history, nor web search history, nor marked religious preferences, nor college applications or credit reports or birth or marriage or divorce records. You have to exist in this world, and they know about it.
The dataset was being mined. The big social media websites, the phone companies, they had all either willingly submitted their data or the Patriot Act had mandated it or the NSA had just appropriated it anyway.
The dataset is assembled, and it is being mined.
How do you protest the cloud?
About the author...
Emily Madapusi Pera is a Chicago writer, featured in publications such as Sliced Bread and Wasted Pages. She derives creative inspiration from varied sources, including the process of baking gluten-free goodies. Emily would like to thank her husband Keerthi for being her first reader.