Tuesday, 13 February 2024 08:38

AI, machines and humans: Two poems by Martin Hayes

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AI, machines and humans: Two poems by Martin Hayes

Here are a couple of poems from a new collection by Martin Hayes for Smokestack Books, called Machine Poems

the definition of a machine

something that is made from following the instructions of a blueprint
rather than the pure mistakes of lust
something non-binary
with legs or arms that have been assembled
rather than grown
something that cannot learn but only repeat
something that can make or mend things
as easily as kill or break things
something whose mothers and fathers cannot be identified
apart from the manufacturer’s tattoo on their skin
something that is not singular
but one of the many
something that doesn’t eat
anything but electricity
that needs to be hooked up to some kind of power source
so that it can reflect back its light into the people’s faces
when they are sat in the dark
something so cunning so manipulative so addictive
it can turn you into one of them
without you even knowing it

the definition of what’s not a machine

when the curve of her back means more to you than anything
when a tree
or a group of trees
like a wood or a forest
stand for something
when you want to kill something
like a politician or a bailiff or a traffic warden
but use reason not to
when you have a trinket or an artefact
left behind by the dead
that means something to you
immeasurably more than its appearance
when animals become your neighbours
rather than your trophies
when stars remain a mystery
rather than a solvable puzzle
when after eating beetroot
your pee comes out red
and you daydream for hours
about how everything is connected
when you can measure
evil or good
by the instinct inside your guts
rather than by a calculation
when there is an urgency
in the things that you do
because you have the knowledge of death

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Martin Hayes

Martin Hayes has worked in the courier industry for 30 years. His latest collection is The Things Our Hands Once Stood For, published by Culture Matters.