after Kazuhiko Nakamura’s “Requiem for Industry”
When you did not come home one day, we knew that they had chosen you to be fed to the machine, that contraption we once thought could save us from hunger. They must have selected you on the basis of height. We told you to hunch a little, slump a bit so that you would not tower above the rest.
We did not do a good job of raising you. We should have forced you to slouch to avoid being singled out. Your father blamed himself. I noticed him paying attention to the family revolver. For days, we were waiting for him to finally pull the trigger.
After they took you to the assembly line, they must have measured your sincerity with their metallic scopes. We had heard stories about the torture.
And since you had no information they could use, what purpose did your limbs serve but to be severed to test the structural integrity of the giant mechanical maw. The bone chips to sharpen the blades. Your screams long lost in the thump of the suction pumps, the hissing of the steam valves. The conveyor belt carried away the rest of you, its chugging sound we could hear from miles away.
© Kristine Ong Muslim
Kristine Ong Muslim has poetry and prose appearing in hundreds of publications, including A cappella Zoo, Aberrant Dreams, Abyss & Apex,Alternative Coordinates, Big Pulp, Dark Horizons, Eschatology, Expanded Horizons, GUD Magazine, Kaleidotrope, Labyrinth Inhabitant Magazine, OG’s Speculative Fiction, Paper Crow, Polluto, Sounds of the Night, Space & Time, Star*Line, Tales of the Unanticipated,Title Goes Here:, and Tales of the Talisman. She authored the full-length poetry collection, A Roomful of Machines (Searle Publishing). Kristine Ong Muslim has been nominated five times for the Pushcart Prize and four times for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s Rhysling Award. Her publication credits are listed here.
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