In the 1953 Ray Bradbury story, The Murderer,
a man brings a black box on a public bus – jams
the commuters’ personal communication devices.
Back home, his front door greets him at the end of the day
and he shoots the damned thing in the keyhole. I love that line.
Cut to the 1950’s wife in B-movie hysterics. The doctors
think he’s mad. Me, I want that box. I want to flip a switch.
People stand too close these days. I pick up the radio waves
of their thoughts and disappear into a mush of noise,
the grinding of mechanical gears, mouths flapping.
Flip it, hear only the cool clear tone of my own thoughts.
Is that weird? I keep thinking about the story and Bradbury
and how did he know? Did he start with his world?
Follow a logical path of this-leads-to-that and arrive at
exactly where we are now? The older I get, the angrier
I am and the more I understand everything I was told
to care about is wrong. I’ve been an unknowing conspirator
in my own extinction. (Hush, now, hush. It will soon be over).
I thought growing meant an accumulation of something
more than years, peace (give it a chance), certainty, something.
But no. It’s the same confusion, only older. I keep getting angrier,
the sun gets hotter, people stupider – and way too close –
any minute now it’s going to blow. And all this time
I’ve been waiting for the one who could stand close,
whose noise would keep tempo with my own, swing-time,
eight to the bar. It’s August now, summer on the turn,
the garden, dying, and I’m still here, waiting.
In my head, there’s a dull ringing din that’s lingered
since last winter’s cold, like the thin tinny pitch
of the plug-in mouse repellent. And I read Facebook
are funding scientific research to read people’s minds.
Come on in, Zuckerberg. Wipe your feet.
Welcome to my one-note symphony of scream.
Water’s full of chlorine, my teeth two-thirds mercury –
5G, getting to work on what’s left of me. And though
I like my own company, of late I find myself wanting
to be touched, kissed, like Rhett Butler said, by someone
who knows how. There’s still time, I tell myself. But, the scream
is getting louder and my patience is a rat-tat-tat egg on the boil.
It’s the hottest summer yet and the future is almost here,
I can already see it. Cue backdrop of oil-fuel flames,
black smoke plumes rising. I’m Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2,
striding back down its parched road, in Aviators and a heat haze –
locked and loaded, shooting all the damned keyholes –
from burnt-out cars, to smashed shopfronts, vandalised post-boxes,
a nine-year old’s five-year diary blasted to charred confetti.
And if you’re out there, the one who knows how, on your way,
getting closer? Put your foot down – the chamber’s almost empty.
Angela T. Carr won The Poetry Business 2018 Laureate’s Prize and is published in journals in the UK, Ireland and the US, including The North, The Lonely Crowd, The London Magazine and Mslexia. Originally from Glasgow, she lives in Dublin. More at www.adreamingskin.com.