Poem for Art’s Birthday 17/1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSjCgQuvhh0

On the 17th January 2020, Art is 1,000,057 years old!
Fold a paper hat. Make an inane grin.
Put the hat on your head like Napoleon.
Let Filliou be your guide.
Celebrate. Rejoice in the making, the process.
Find wonder where and while we can.
Explore, invent, contrive. See things anew.
Revisit the ordinary. Your breakfast – for example:
Where did it come from? What was involved?
Measure, observe – the change as it flows from your mouth
To be expelled in a smelly heap, which we do not mention at dinner parties.
Look at the world with the eyes of a child.
Australia is on fire. The Amazon – razed and bulldozed for profit.
Jeff Bezos – he’s richer than you think!
A billion seconds is 31 years. Each second, you get a crisp, green dollar:
How long would you have had to live to match his wealth?
The screen you are watching would turn black and white
And then morph into a loom of punched cards.
It would swell until it burst through the roof; a riot of wiring and hot valves.
Air raid sirens would wail above the whistle of deadly doodlebugs.
The great depression would bring capitalists to their knees.
Lines of shabby figures queue against the cold, waiting:
Work never materialises.
Mud, trenches, Maxims rattle. Pointless, bloody conflict, over long-forgotten empires. Lives Wasted.
Let’s not speak of that – it is Art’s Birthday, after all!
Why aren’t you smiling? Put your hat back on!
Where were we? Film would be lost to the spinning thaumatrope,
Babbage would be labouring vainly over his engines.
Ironbridge gorge, no longer spanned with iron, would just be . . . a gorge.
Factories, looms would give way to spinning jennies.
Fire would engulf London’s narrow alleyways.
Shakespeare would be drawing on his pipe, candlelit at a writing desk.
Plague would remind us that we are all made of dust.
Chaucer’s pilgrims would be in the Tabard, downing small beer as they
Embarked on their footsore slog to Canterbury.
Viking longships with bright spears, intricate brooches sparkle in sunlight.
Hadrian’s Wall would spring up from the rubble of centuries.
But that is all gone, dead, unimportant.
Why dwell on the past – it is Art’s birthday!
Where were we? Pythagoras, Archimedes, or some long-forgotten thinker
Crafted wheels of clockwork, set in motion to mimic the planet’s orbits
Only to be lost below the Mediterranean. The first computer.
But you are still nowhere near his fortune. Nowhere near early enough.
We need to go back to Ur, Sumer and clay tablets. Millenia before
Modern silicon enabled Amazon to feast on their rivals.
To swallow whole companies in a single, ravenous gulp.
Democracy does not have a price – regardless what Bezos may think.
Something within always resists the stench of value and profit and greed.
Amazon’s blank, grey panopticons are encircled by shanty towns of tents
As their workers, on the pittance doled out, cannot afford to rent.
But Art lives on. Rebellion lives on. Protest lives on.

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