Drone Poem

2012 April 8
by Carl Watson

(The following is, of course, both parody of, and homage to, Rimbaud’s Le bateau ivre)

Le drone saoul

As I came down the implausible currents,
Guided no more by the remote navigator’s digital code,
Slumped over their consoles, they were
Victims of a rage their instrumentation could not tame.

Hyper-tech and itinerant, I was left to go my own free way,
Riding the wild gyres and jetstreams of a violent sky.
Vaster than your fleshy logistics can gaug,
Indifferent to your data-links, much less your intentions,

What cared I for nationalist agendas, DARPA or the PNAC
For the ticker of petrol prices or futures in aggressive media,
When jetstream and doldrum bore me beyond all that
To horse latitudes and Coriolis reflections.

Long nights I drifted in the tepid El Nino’s caress.
I rode the Japanese currents to Western shores,
And have known as well the trade winds that fed Europe
On the spoils of the tropics.

I hovered amongst super-cells, espying cells of intrigue below,
And bathed in solar flares, rings of ion pulsation.
Amongst such turbulent thoughts, it was the flight of a curious eagle
Its hard, sharp sight, showed me my shame.

Like that mythic and fugitive bird, born without legs,
Who cannot land but is ever fated to ride an endless sky,
I have known great sorrows and the pathos of the species
Who fashioned my instruments in their Satanic workshops.

I’ve known the fronts of war and the fronts of weather,
The theaters of both and their blustery commanders.
Eyeless predator I am, their every expectation of privacy lost
To my infrared and intolerant sensors & I hunted,

I witnessed, caused even, the migrations of families,
Ant-like populations sent scattered before my reconnaissance.
I have known the terror of the Hellfire shell,
The judgment visited from nowhere upon innocence,

And the fear of the fleeing form in the street besieged.
Even as I now claim such judgment to be not mine but
As the weather itself, the all-surveiling eye of a desperate race.
No, my passion lay elsewhere. Indeed,

What fantastic borealises, planetary eclipses I have seen
Hurricanes and thunderheads boxing God’s plural face.
And I believe I have sensed the fact of secrets that are not,
And truths men thought they had perceived but did not,

As all intelligence I gather is finally for nought.
I may own circuits of a purpose, but no dictate now,
And like them, I no longer feign responsibility for my acts
And unlike them I feel my existence in its elemental glory.

I watched the slow cracking of the polar caps,
Vast ice cakes free to drift and melt in warming currents;
That certain dissolution miming my own.
White and alone: Oh mirror of my insentient ecstasies!

I drifted in invisible dioxide clouds that warped the sun
And the violent skies grown more so,
As the deserts of the earth grow in inverse proportion
To the waters of life shrinking, fetid and stale.

I watched the forest sponge dried in pursuit of product,
Witnessed the electric consumption of the species’
Birthright to the faith of its un-natural cravings.
Your climatologists know no more impassive retribution than I knew!

I’ve seen celestial arms of fire and ice,
Their gestures interpreted as divine right and provocation,
When in fact disinterest was all there was to read there,
Not food for intolerance and animal need.

I’ve have indeed felt the gentle indifference of such
Wisdom buffet my impervious titanium cheek and know
The provision of the ancient and dead gods is only this:
We fall and we flow, temporary and alone.

At times the bones of space wreckage drifts firey by
And this I know to be my fate when the wind’s fuel is spent
And I often find I dream of likewise burning in descent
Indeed I desire it, as I grow tired of this vision.

The endless monsoons exhaust me, my payload wearies me,
My cavities yet filled with unspent ordnance
And no relief, as if I channeled those entities, my creators
Fully sexed, yet repressed and condemned to anger.

My cameras once set to record the private acts of such men
Now find no culprit, no strategy. Oh! Where the enemies,
Where the suspects of old, the heathen and the infidel
In that dying world below, where passions once raged?

I find sometimes I do long for the hubris of those
Nations and kings I served, not for their character,
Nor for the god-like and cowardly power I once delivered
On their behalf, but for the glory of the anima benefici.

To be free from this memory of my creation,
This sadness of the human-skinned and blasted planet,
This now is my only goal, to be carried far
From this atmosphere of suffering. Oh, to go to space!

To the boneyards of my kind,
Amongst the belts of asteroids, their serpentine script
Winding through the star-ridden deep.
Yet I fear such is not to be my fate.

And when that day of rest at last arrives
And I, half-buried, lie, a mute anomaly in some desert
Perhaps I may serve as idol or future Ozymandias
To faiths yet to come: curious new apes, emotional mantis colonies

And if there be any sky I wish still to occupy, it is the mind
Of the child, who, of a midsummer’s eve holds that plastic
Pterodactyl, that paper-mache Phoenix, at some fantastic Kitty Hawk,
At arms length, shivering and vibrant in the possibilities of flight.

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