Suspended Sentence Poem by Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

Marton, Lancashire

Suspended Sentence

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and while children, to whom
the future’s still a playground,
are complicit in computers’ fantasies,

not so this adult; scared
witless, that one wrong button pressed
will spell oblivion; a lifetime’s guilt
stirred by the one word ERROR! in its deadly box;

and then that solemn judgment that
‘this computer has committed
an illegal act’ – so that I go
to the window, switch out the light,
and around the curtain look for that
dark unmarked car across the way with its two
immobile figures frozen in a mindless anonymity
which could not be more suspicious –

and now it tells me in unrolling words that
‘an uninterrupted playback will commence
in more than one day’ – and life’s put on hold,
the present time is stopped, and all our yesterdays
are to be fast-backwarded, as it’s said
may happen at the moment of our death;
no longer are those sci-fi films the mind’s brief game;
today I am to live in no placed place
nor now-timed time; and as tomorrow’s dawn
breaks grey and fearful, outside time itself,
the playback of my puny life will roll…

time (so to speak) for final cyber-irony:
press Start to stop this virtual memory’s oblivion,
and wonder if Prince Hamlet felt like this.

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Michael Shepherd

Marton, Lancashire
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