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once, at a bar in a tokyo high rise

October 8, 2012

eliot and hiro look over at vic.
“it’s such a strange language.”
a cheap and broken bic,
floating in drunk sewage.

it’s from Kabuki:
flipscans in the corporate docket
of a burned branded jet ski.
she fished a scrap out of her back pocket.

But she was lonely.
one didn’t have to wear a face mask,
to fail suddenly,
but she had decided to never ask.

“they know about your financial worth.”
she shook the liquor back and forth.
cut-up piece generated by prosaic from a corpus of 30 cyberpunk novels. a part of the cyberpunk prophecies series.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 11, 2012 5:11 pm

    Interesting… The tone of this is very open to interpretation. The brevity of the language suggests hard-boiled detective novels (which cyberpunk plays off of itself) but there are grounds for reading it either “straight” (supported by the final couplet, which is faintly threatening) or as self-aware parody (supported by lines 2-4).

    Maybe the answer is: a bit of both, like the earlier poem in the sequence, The Golden Haze, which mixes imagery of natural and technological beauty (lines 1-2) with absurdity (lines 3 and 7-8) and mortality, and the discongruity of images that come with near-death experiences (line 5). Actually I gotta admit I like “The Golden Haze” better, though I admire the fact that you’re tackling challenging rhyme schemes in this one.

  2. Eric Elshtain permalink
    October 15, 2012 1:01 pm

    To my ear this sonnet hits all the right notes: a guided set of allusions and gestalt character markers–yes, from the hard-boiled world, but specifically using the inheritance from Hammett within cyberpunk of the hard-boiler as vehicle through which to critique capital–all set within an exchange between iambs and trochees, a stuttering gallop through the landscape. Nice!

  3. nathanielksmith permalink
    October 26, 2012 2:07 pm

    thanks for the discussion!

    yes, the biggest surprise for me in this project is the feel of the language; i expected the cyberpunk touch to be the vocabulary: weird words of a wired future. but it’s all the in between narrative that is really coming out: that hard boiled prose that you’re both picking up on. it’s a different direction than i anticipated but still a good one :)

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