Two computer poems

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The Web

It would have to be the world-wide web,
wouldn't it?
I mean since - say nuclear fission
or the genome thing.
But you wouldn't call it hubris, would you?

We're not deconstructing The Mystery here -
it's just information out there
and ego.
Still, we haven't ever known, have we -
if it's a Faustian deal we've got happening?
In the reconciliation of nuclear medicine
and nuclear arsenals
who pays?
Maybe, after all, it's just
more baggage, preventing our
passage on the narrow way.
But The Web seems so helpful -
and it's about how we use it, isn't it?
I mean something like the cyber-torch of Shi Tao
or literacy in the jungle -
there's no question, is there?
But then,
what of equity of access?
What of the dark under-side?
And, you know, what if
we're the fly?

– Michelle O'Connor

Access Denied

I don't know what our computer
is humming about.

Since he's gone, it seems to have its own agenda.
Strange, it does not blink as much,
And it no longer warms to my touch.

It would be silly, of course, to ask it whether
It's too soon to remove a dead person
From my email list
Or if his many folders preserve
His secret tryst.

I have tried, night after night, to unzip
His memories. Only the computer is his
Confidant. Stubborn, it lets no one
Know all snippets of his life. Not me,
Not even me, his wife.

My faith is strong, yet I want to prove
There's nothing in those folders
That I disapprove: no stranger's pictures,
No surprising bills.

I want to know: No one else bit his shoulders.
No one but I sucked his toes. Who knows
He was not someone else's hero?
Who knows what ones and zeroes
Can add up to?

This humming echoes my mourning.
Maybe the computer is mourning too.
But it is closer to him now,
While my access is denied.

– Tammy Ho

Michelle O'Connor

Michelle O'Connor is a retired school principal who teaches English in South-Western Sydney.



Tammy Ho
Tammy Ho Lai-ming is a Hong Kong-born writer based in London. She is the editor of Hong Kong U Writing: An Anthology (2006) and a co-editor of Love & Lust (2008). She is also an assistant poetry editor of Sotto Voce Magazine and a founding co-editor of Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. Her website is at


Topic tags: web, computer, agenda, hubris, ego, information



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Existing comments

When I depart from this world so sweet,
Who will press control alt delete?
barbara | 18 November 2008

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