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
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.
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.
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.