Andrew McEwan

from repeater
ASCII is not art. It’s a code, a way of hiding things within smaller things…The codes covered here are the beginning of a crude alphabet for our new machines’ pidgin, a baby language, for better and worse, mindlessly mumbled sub-atomic particles of thought.
                               — Tom Jennings


0       often clouds part and all around sky

1       glyphs born of designation divide

1       into bordering bodies

0       a shift of clouds simultaneously excavates and mimics an empty sky

1       cryptological mainframe suffers from what remains hidden

1       as schismatic rattle of coded bits mimic cellular

0       clouds all around or not

1       decoded as pirate signal in receiver’s empty room


                          0       people maneuver hazards, tell anecdotes

                          1       in binaric landscape a flock of bits splices horizon to equation

                          1       converge at repeater’s poverty

                          0       people dissuade others, tell lies

                          1       android augur calculates the hamming weight of the flock

                          1       monitors migration as turing computation

                          1       proves all existence is iterate

                          0       people move and move, give directions


0       in the back corner of the city incrementally

1       rush of stilted wires lay birthright claim

1       like canvas infects paint to justify neglected truss

0       gradual circuit where scavengers search

1       in abandoned networks circuits rewire themselves

1       speak in a ticking diminutive of plosive rust

1       rework persistence as virus

1       on enfeebled routine


                          0       somewhere, he dreams, an autonomous computer

                          1       oscilloscope sifts patterns from the wild

                          1       distrusts discordance, seeing only contradiction

                          1       sets to reconfigure by proving subatomic concord

                          0       somewhere, he dreams, controls materialize

                          0       somewhere, he dreams, an ungovernable system

                          0       somewhere, he dreams, his own redundancy

                          0       somewhere, he dreams, appendages of control as ornamental fixtures

Author's note: "repeater uses the ASCII binary code for each letter arranged beside the lines of the poem. The digits work as a constraint – 0 lines command a stop or repeat in the coding sequence and poem, and a 1 commands a continuance in the code, and poem. Through this form I “program” an investigation of layered and digitalized language coding into the very code itself."

Andrew McEwan studies at the University of Toronto. His work has been published in dandelion, ditch, Existere, Fact-Simile, fillingStation, and the Gulch anthology (Tightrope Books). He is a former editor of Acta Victoriana literary and arts journal. His first chapbook, Input / Output, is forthcoming from Cactus Press.

Other sections from repeater have appeared in Fact-Simile and in Ditch.

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