Another literary taxidermy I have worked on for the past several weeks. This time the first and last lines come from a novel rather than a song, William Gibson’s cyberpunk defining Neuromancer.
Taxidermy #2: Cyberpunk Hauntology
The sky above the port was the colour of television, tuned to a dead channel,
Greyscale mashup of crusty pixels,
Launching the careers of a million YouTube video essayists,
Flickering lines in horizontal drift
Across convex surfaces of CRT screens.
With sunglasses affixed, like Mollys eyes,
I slide a cassette tape into my portable cyber deck
Back and forth
Through advertising pop-ups
For dating apps
& how to manage your crypto portfolio.
The other side is games on tape,
Pixelated faces in two colours
Or two shades of the same colour.
He told me Molly was his soulmate,
In this semiotic swirl of neon billboards,
Fake tanned robots & whitened teeth,
She was the only thing that brought him joy,
The only thing he thought of as pure, good
She tattooed a Molotov cocktail on her left cheek,
Just below the eye, the legend read:
“A toast to the rich.”
It’s all over social media:
Guillotines outside Bezos’ mansion,
Pitchfork & torch mob chasing down Musk,
Molly licks her lips & cuddles up closer
To Kurt Cobain & Eugene Kelly.
He had proper insomnia for the first time in months,
Propelled by podcasts & hope for denied futures,
Spectres haunting Europe in the sickly light
Of late-stage capitalism.
He thought I was a robot, for some reason.
Maybe it was my telescopic, go-go-gadget arms
Or my electrified hull.
Have you never seen a guy with tank tracks before?
She said she’d take me anywhere,
Pasted in gum Arabic,
Monochromed by xerox
& stapled in a bedsit.
TS Eliot wanders in & asks me if it’s his.
As social realism is used to self me junk food.
Here, in the desert of the real
The mirages take on the aspect
Of heroic scenes of miners at the coalface,
Writ in mosaic
On the marbled plinth
Of a six hundred foot Lenin statue,
Loyally guarding the industrial dock lands
From the predatory approaches
Of Union busters
& Pinkerton patrols.
He found her next
At a union meeting, waving a red flag,
Armed & dangerous, bullets for bailiffs,
1312 carved into the stock of her rifle.
She smiled at him warmly & offered him coffee.
It was like a support group,
Name badged workers sitting in a circle
On plastic chairs.
“My name’s Colin & I’m a communist.”
“My name’s Andy & I’m an anarchist.”
We escorted the Nazbols out, at gunpoint.
All through the meeting
She made regular eye contact with him.
It reminded him of bus journeys
From petroleum-choked city centres
To endless fields of humming pylons,
Brutalist substations & grazing cattle.
Terraces & tower blocks giving way
To reservoirs & army bases.
Burial into Boards Of Canada.
The urban rain nestles up against
Bucolic pastoral mellotrons.
It was here, amongst the effigies,
That they were finally separated.
Burning haystacks hummed
Like an overcharged oscillator,
Birds singing like circuit bent toys,
Folkloric mythology depicted in pixels.
My avatar is a pagan deity,
My alt anon account is a denizen of the underworld.
I see him running, mind scrambled
Like a CRT between two magnets,
Flickering lines of snow whisper prophecies
In ancient hard drives.
I never saw which way Molly fled,
Or if she survived,
But he woke up screaming
In a soft walled room.
The medication soon soothed him.
Empty bliss of depersonalisation.
He never saw Molly again.
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