I first heard about it in a Burger King.
Its aims seemed as elusive as the stock ticker
or why some people stayed in marriages.
The future was flying cars, phone screens, and Minidisc.
I bused tables with a cloth that mucked the laminate sheen
and, just that Spring, an annular eclipse ringed the sky
like we were suddenly looking down a cabled conduit.
Then, as if an indigenous strain moving beyond a range map,
people started getting it, birdsong calling up from basements,
the pink noise, hiss, and crackle of a connection made.
And somebody already had some pictures: the body,
pixelated, bare, with the feeling you were overseeing it,
moving along the conveyer belt of banner ads.
Days went by like they were being dragged into a bin.
Somewhere, fibres tethered us to a warehouse or a factory,
but for then the feed seemed as ephemeral as a thought.
The search bar like a mail slot you could lift
just enough to see inside somebody else’s space.
It wasn’t a place, but you could go there.
At night, blinds down, but windows open, flags of light
were quietly raised from main floors up into our rooms.
Loop for Ikue Mori
And I thought: this is Detroit techno exploded.
But it was you Ikue trying to make drum machines sound broken
in your walk-up in East Village, tired of lugging a bass kick
up the six floors that separated you now from no wave.
It was you riding a riptide of funding, you noodling with Zorn
on a track for Hex Kitchen, doing to drums what Gehry
did for siding or Hendrix did for feedback,
or it was Aphex Twin drowned in a bucket of wind chimes.
Assembly-line Frankenstein could have been your M.O.
But I’d listened to Milton’s Ensembles for Synth,
Stockhausen’s Hymnen; I’d even stood on a rooftop
somewhere in Prenzlauer Berg while somebody “played” the shuttlecock.
It was evening and one star seemed to loosen and slide.
Airbus or Boeing? Were Keats’s palpable designs on us
being parried away as if over a net? There are still spots
that have yet to blip against a bathymetric sweep.
Ikue, a Navstar can cross your field of vision in a minute.
Beneath it glides the palette of the Great Salt Desert,
the Palm Islands of Dubai, and the Badlands of Alberta
where they still find the dropped jaws of craters beneath towns.