Ken Poyner


There are but two types:
Those that, when shut down,
Stare at the floor; and those that,
When shut down,
Stare at the ceiling.
The joints in the neck
Lose tension, and the head,
Where so many of the preprocessor
Systems come untethere
Being so heavily shielded
For the protection of the sensory
Collectors—turns away
From tilting into the task at hand,
And obeys gravity. You can look
All you want, but you won’t find
A design or architectural
Reason for one device
To angle upward, and another device
To angle down. Test
The bilateral symmetry; inspect
Parallel models for instances
Where they are not parallel.
As many as you like,
Ensure the neck connections
Are factory milled to the same
Advertised tolerances. Stage
A thousand to shut down, prepare
To catalogue the soon good reason
For disparity. When, at last,
You have come
To the end of your experimental cases:

Watch with me
It only takes close observation
Of a dozen or so. Flip
The switch. Watch the limbs
Relax. Watch the monitors wink slack.
Listen to the interconnects pop
Open. Look without blinking
At the crowding of the sensory arrays.
Catch the pattern where each, individually,
Chooses to hide the last of the light.


Ken Poyner’s collections of short fiction, Constant Animals and Avenging Cartography, and his latest collections of poetry, Victims of a Failed Civics and The Book of Robot, can be obtained from Barking Moose Press, He serves as bewildering eye-candy at his wife’s power lifting affairs. His poetry lately has been sunning in Analog, Asimov’s, Poet Lore, The Kentucky Review; and his fiction has yowled in Spank the Carp, Red Truck, Café Irreal.

Editor’s Note: Image from Etsy: Metropolis Maria robot art deco half mask.

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