am a child alone,
the neighborhood could not care less.
A nose-counting game today spells
my existence in the monitor of
the Census Man’s computer.
am counted, assigned this number –
this frail figure with a
prepossessing chaff –
entered among a couple of thousands more,
a logbook corner tends a multitude.
The Census Man meanwhile says that
a world is getting too nosy,
‘You can’t hide away from it,
not anymore in your whole
damned taxed life.’
Yet hidden now behind a tiny number
who would know I am this face,
this countenance, this mind?
this child slave of the weeping moon
melting with the sunrise in this,
the collective boom.
Society becomes a quantitative heap,
and there is a newly-devised game
of finding who is who behind
the jilting ribs of numerals,
a cluster of pins with which to lance
the individual soul, his identity
gone frog-sticking in the starkest night
without a single bit of light.
© SSJ 1976
The ‘The Nose-Counting Game’ is one of 5 poems of an untitled collection written in late 1975 and early 1976. The collection saw publication in the Focus Philippines magazine issue of 21 August 1976. It is a poem about the conundrum of not being able to hide from the greater power of a system that wants to further hide you under the sheer numbers of its big data. – SSJ, 28 July 2017
That was very powerful! I appreciated the excerpt about the poems. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Feel free to read my post for the prompt if you want
Thank you, Hannah. You seem to be blogging a lot more about your cat, Patches, so is that your pet dog that you wrote about in the link? In any case, love your dog as you love your cat, ey? 🙂
It is my parents pet dog technically. And the cat is my pet – I am staying with them for a few days. But I love all the animals!
This poem is prescient – now, more than ever, are we just statistics, numbers, in this connected society. Yet, hidden as numbers, never have we been most exposed. Sometimes, falling off the grid is a temptation – but that means disappearing from life-as-we-know-it now as well.
Thank you for the observation, Imelda.
This was a loovely blog post