the weekly

Soft Drive

Look inside my cache
Follow what I’m typing
Make my inbox crash
Record me when I’m skyping
Eat my algorithms neat
Hack my iPhone, it’s my treat

Store up every text
Empty all my spam
Have my dossier sexed
Know me as I am
Track my messages on Twitter
Run your fingers through my litter

Yes, I beg you, please
Store my cyber-chatter
When I stroke my keys
Tape my private matter
It’s only fair, GCHQ
Because of course I’m watching you


from The Witnesses (after Auden)

You are the drivers, and we are the flash,
We are the clampers collecting the cash
 you owe;
At the gates, and on the roof,
When you pause, or are on the hoof,
 we see where you go.

On every Saturday or Friday
We will ask you for your ID:
 we tape
Every move you make, and every look.
In every cranny and every nook
 there is no escape.

Fill in a form, fill out your CV,
And still you’ll be on our CCTV
 without cause;
Do not act in a suspicious manner –
Even Dodi Fayeed and Diana
 came through our doors.

Never mind policemen, or your polemic,
For we are ceaseless, and we are an endemic
Your blood is banked, your carbon print,
In the passport booth, neither smile nor squint,
 till we have your iris.

Asylum seeker or refugee,
When you arrive, be assured that we
 compute you;
We know your age, your skin, your size,
If you have distinctive Mongolian eyes,
 then we will shoot you.

Click here for a story in The Guardian

Click here to buy Bill’s new poetry collection, Ringers


The second was first published in December 2006 in The Independent, just before Auden’s centenary. I used the last line (relating to Jean Charles de Menezes) in another poem, which is in Ringers. You can read the whole Independent series here

Soft Drive


Two poems this week, in the wake of the Coalition’s aim to allow the recording of all electronic messages.  The second is from 2006

4 April 2012


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