Your Time and You: A Neoprole’s Dating Guide

[Another oldie but — I hope — goodie, that seems relevant to republish at the moment, when all the assumptions of capitalist civilization are being called into question.]


Since the writer has no means to escape, we want him to tightly embrace his time; it is his unique chance…
–J.-P. Sartre, 1945

Respond to your time’s advances
all that flash
the zoom lens admiring you from a balcony
the bouquets of subway lines and low-cost flights
the invitations with Your Name Here
Accept a date

Out on the town with your time
give it a chance to show off
story after story blooming across its windows
spun-sugar wages
tall crystals oozing with power
Ooh as it flexes its lights and leans over you
Go home with it

Alone together
let its neoprene lips part gently against yours
its tongue slide buzzing along your gums
Ignore the faint aftertaste
scurvy and gun-oil
chlorine and Sahara and screams
Put your arms round it

Your time is a fast worker you should be too
talk with your fingertips
touch all the right keys and switches
feed it the hot numbers starting with you
the little pink secrets
Go through the motions until you sparkle with sweat
Undo its bracelet of extinct species
Whisper yes

Let it padded clamps rotate you
into position
its arms swivel down and move over you
sequence of sixty separate operations
Gaze up at your time
and smile
as your smile is replicated in mosaic flickers
your heat-trace wriggles like a solar flare
Ignore the faint afterimage
withered silk seizure displays
darkness blinking inside a vacuum flask
Whisper please

Let it part your thighs
with just enough of a struggle
the injector is pale and soft not
the stainless probe you expected
Caress it help it slide in move with it squeeze it
Whisper now

Writhe as its data pulse deep into you
sticky strings of hunger and skill
waste and speed and connections its whole share
of future
Now feel the change
come over you your body taper and streamline
your eyes become wet multiple rubies
your jaws segment and harden into a complex tool
razors sprout under your forearms
your millions of eggs flare like ether
already singing
children who won’t need
to be what you are
Whisper my turn

Embrace your time tightly
before it can stagger off to new conquests
Bite off its head

[first appeared in Velocities #1, 1982; Rhysling Award for Best Short Science Fiction Poem, 1983; collected in Animations, 1988]

2 Responses to “Your Time and You: A Neoprole’s Dating Guide”

  1. March 18, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Where there is love the heart is light,
    Where there is love the day is bright,
    Where there is love there is a song
    to help when things are going wrong,
    Where there is love there is a smile to make all things seem more worthwhile
    Where there is love there’s quiet peace, a tranquil place where turmoils cease…
    Love changes darkness into light and makes the heart take wingless flight
    We know that love can make our happier life and enthusiastic, but love can also make our life suffers. How build love without end that will make our life is happy all along be one question which we shall answer. Building love without deceitfulness, selfless love and strenuous love and sacrificial.

    • 2 adamfcornford
      March 18, 2009 at 9:47 pm

      These are well-known sentiments–in the verse part. I don’t agree with them. I think that love can make us suffer at least as easily as it can make us joyful. And I am not only referring to romantic love. For example, watching someone you love lose their mind, or die of a painful illness, or just witnessing their suffering and being unable to help, does not produce “a smile” or “quiet peace, a tranquil place where turmoils cease.” Love causes as much turmoil in us as it alleviates. Oddly, in your prose afterword to the verse, you say (ungrammatically) “love can also make our life suffers.” Yes, love can. I also don’t think that trying to make a love that is purely “selfless” is a good idea. I think all real love can be selfless at times–maybe even a lot of the time–but that the effort always to suppress one’s own needs and desires in a love relationship poisons the love with resentment in the long run. If you have to (say) care for someone you love through a long terminal illness during which they understandably strain every emotional resource you have, what keeps you going is not the emotion of love but the obligation and commitment you have made–ultimately to yourself–to see it through. The love is there part of the time, and the rest of the time it’s your will and your sense of who you are as an ethical being.

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