Big Data

By Tom Lagasse

The dossier is more complete

than we wish it to be. Information

Reflected in all of those individual clicks, scanned groceries, bills, tax forms, and

charitable donations:

Cookie crumbs map a path through the forest.

From spreadsheets the dataheads, like gods or a tribunal of saints, pour

over the language of numbers like an ancient text

and judge our private defining desires and perversities.

They do not reign down blight or drought in punishment

for bodies longing to touch and taste other bodies

for tongues longing for fat, sugar, and salt

for empires longing to expand the reach of their tentacles to eat

the poorest and most vulnerable.

They help mold the image in the market of possibility with new & improved

apples, boxes, and lamps

express delivered to our doors.

The insatiable human appetite -we're hungry animals cannibalizing one life

to make another, a reincarnated species

learning to live peacefully

or destroy itself into oblivion.

All of it, coded and labeled into numbers, making us nothing

more than points on the XY graph or

a mouse as a subject in an experiment.

Seen beyond the standard indicators of race, creed or gender,

Humanity can be plotted and connected

by amino acids, nucleotides, and chromosomes:

20. 64. 23*.

The cracked mirror distorts our shared likeness. The code binds us all.

*20 are the amount of amino acids, 64 sets of nucleotides, and 23 chromosomes, which constitute a human life.


This poem was written as a submission for the 2021 Flatten the Curve Competition.

Artist’s Statement:

Since both are trying to understand the world humans inhabit, artists and scientists are asking the same questions but are seeking different means to find explanations. Both really are conversations towards our evolution. Science provides explanations through data and language to explain phenomena, and I hope as an artist I can help humanize them by making connections. Today’s discoveries and new phrases become tomorrow’s metaphors.

Artist Bio:

Tom’s poetry has been published in Silver Birch Press Prime Movers Series, Freshwater Literary Review, Word Mill Magazine, The Monterey Poetry Review, Wine Drunk Sidewalk, Plum Tree Tavern, I Am Not a Silent Poet, and Wax Poetry & Art, along with a half dozen anthologies. He lives in Bristol, CT.

Social Media:

Instagram: tom_lagasse

Twitter: @tomlagasse


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