Socially distant. A poem with acknowledgements to EM Forster by Iain Campbell

The world was changing.
Many said it was no longer safe
to venture outside.
There are dangers lurking
in the unfiltered air
that will certainly kill you.
Best stay locked in and rely
upon technology to keep in touch.

Sure, you can even get all you need
delivered right to your front door,
despite the lateness of the hour.
Some devotees say that robots
and driverless vehicles will soon
take over this dangerous task.

And beware of first hand ideas,
the statistics of the damned;
dismiss complaints nailed against the door,
and do not reflect upon the windows
once broken at Versailles.

That was when it all started, Technopoly,
as Forster had forseen years earlier.
People started to live alone
and rely upon the Machines.

Travel was discouraged, then banned;
the dusty ways of distance and direction
were forgotten.
No one truly met face to face any more.
People’s connection
with the natural world ended.

To break the Law meant to be cast outside,
Homelessness, the Committee termed it,
and this was presumed
to mean certain death,
far from the hum of civilisation.

But one day the music became imperfect.
One day The Machine Stopped.

“For a moment they saw
the nations of the dead,
and, before they joined them,
scraps of the untainted sky.”

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