18 May 2009

"Hackers Can Sidejack Cookies" by Heather McHugh

I've long been fond of Heather McHugh's poetry, and have even longer been fond of collage-type poems, so I was particularly delighted to read her collage-poem of cyberspeak, "Hackers Can Sidejack Cookies" in a recent issue of The New Yorker:
A beige toaster is a maggotbox.
A bit bucket is a data sink.
Farkled is a synonym for hosed.
Flamage is a weenie problem.
That's just the first stanza. I was hooked right from there, but once it continued to "In MUDs one acknowledges/ a bonk with an oif./ (There’s a cosmic bonk/oif balance.)" I was totally in thrall -- the sky turning to the color of a screaming live TV wouldn't have kept me from continuing to read. The ending achieves perfection: both hilarious and somehow, strangely, ineffably ... sad.

I probably especially enjoyed the poem because I actually understand some of the terminology -- for instance, the title makes perfect sense to me, and the last lines evoke emotion not only because their rhythm is particularly well constructed (collaged), but because they make me remember books I read years ago by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling and Rudy Rucker, who, after all, wrote a novel called Wetware.

Now I just wish I had a time machine so I could go plant the poem in an issue of Omni or Asimov's in the early '80s...

(If you need a glossary, there's a handy start to one here.)

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