Soft Machine (Truman Syndrome) and Soft Machine (in Isolation). Two poems by Thomas Irvine

Soft Machine (Truman Syndrome)

Spot people from where they’re not; window of an airplane,
don’t believe they’re still there when not, everyone is an actor
one long cruel camera-shot of an awful kind of fascination. Your friends
friendly holograms; Your family androids; your lover a careful algorithm;
personally perfect hurtful in equal measures.

Panic plays to tune of dial-up modem, establish connection,
makes good sense to get dressed undressed dressed again in
dark, in case. Maybe listeners still addicted sickened, unentertained,
maybe falling from sky to show what you’ve been missing all along,
prove that birds were never just rain.

To live in hope that if you can make the loneliness feel godlike,
you will never work a day in your lives. Honestly, folks get back
behind your own damn eyes to be out of the room again
they’re knowing bite your nails into skinny marble
for square-eyed masses, interactive tragedy without audience is just another today.

Walls don’t talk; they listen, break a bowl see if it’s still tomorrow;
honey lukewarm of glass images, talking as if they were yesterday;
all the same, did they watch you did worlds end to slow your moving?
Vote on next twist, new neighbour, first out, last heaven, you saw them paint
a new skyline in chromatic, birds in agreement, wonder where sails end; where end started.

Soft Machine (in Isolation)

Growing older, sick with more absences had something in hand,
to forget about, in consideration, a toy left on a bus ruined
Christmas or slow dances, each uncomfortable as last,
more promises to fix moment only to leave on a bus again.
Untaken, thoughts made sideways, shatter of a path, new routes never then

followed become alley where untouched made a whole evening,
take back glances, evils, methods, next measures– impermanent
as pencil lead. Nothing slows enough to tame; only brokens,
further unfixable choices that came to define an age, each season
hang, like curse words at a child’s birthday party, overhead,

whole fucking place fogged up, can’t see where crying comes from,
but is there, is somebody’s. Read yourself back, think
that could have been my own, might’ve even been,
doesn’t matter because to be is to be better than is not.
How much is buried in, hidden, healed over? Do you still

track by name, pinch for progress? Were you born blue, hurting nurses
with different kind of crying, did you fall for ocean,
assuming its colour? Such remarkable sadnesses; never lived without, at least–
no record of so. Always collecting, always fool’s gold,
ontologies, stories from a dead friend. A receipt, proof of a day, a surrendered memory.


Thomas holds a Masters in Creative Writing Poetry from the University of East Anglia, and currently works in the British Library’s Publishing team.

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