TALON Robot Examines A Body

1
They are too backward, the dead.

They get in the way
of technological advances
such as this.
Imagine

The time it takes
to whir metal arms,
tank-like tracks,
gears, hydraulics

The patience it demands
to focus and refocus
hardened eyes,
in order to position

A single robot in place.
To poke and prod one body,
certify it is dead.
No longer considered

A threat by those who own
this piece of armory
worth more than a village
burnt whole.

2
Apart from special lenses,
heat and movement
sensors, other less known
devices built into these
roaming machines

There is a person
who has to monitor the scraps
of rendered facts,
someone who has to stare
at every shard of flesh.

This person remains on the verge
of conflict throughout the whole
operation, armed with clinical
precision, making certainties
of random targets.

No information gathered
in scenes like this
will reveal anything
useful to the surviving
family of the dead,

Even if there were any left.

3
This one body alone demands
to be examined in detail:
minute facts irrelevant
to strategic reports.

Who gave permission
to touch his remains
this way, with a mechanical
hand, distant?

But this body will not surrender.
It is beyond the reach
of the most powerful
tools of destruction.

When there were so many
faces of strangers emptying
the marketplace,
whose did he seek?

Of those who clothed
him as he emerged
from childhood, who did
he remember most, last?

Will anyone know how carefully
his young fingers treasured
the very first feather
in his hand?

-o-

TALON robot examines a body in Baghdad

TALON robot examines a body in Baghdad

This poem, written after a photograph from Wikileaks.com, was originally published on Marne Kilates’s Poet’s Picturebook Issue 8

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About matangmanok

Jim Pascual Agustin writes and translates poetry. Sometimes he tries his hand at essays and stories. In 2011 the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House in Manila released BAHA-BAHAGDANG KARUPUKAN (poems in Filipino) and ALIEN TO ANY SKIN (poems in English). The same publisher released his most recent poetry collections SOUND BEFORE WATER and KALMOT NG PUSA SA TAGILIRAN. In 2015 a new poetry collection in English, A THOUSAND EYES was released. His first collection of short stories in Filipino, SANGA SA BASANG LUPA, was released in 2016. UK publisher The Onslaught Press launches his latest poetry collection, WINGS OF SMOKE, worldwide in February 2017. View all posts by matangmanok

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