one kind of robot

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Years ago, HSBC ran a popular ad campaign that emphasized the importance of local knowledge. They’ve apparently abandoned their “world’s local bank” thing but for a while there, it was one ad series I liked seeing when I read The Economist.

The ad I remember most clearly was the use of the word “robot” and then different images of what this word would mean in different places in the world. In much of the English-speaking world, you’d get something like a Cylon – or a non-melting, non-bath-bomb version of the image in this post. But apparently in South Africa, you’d get a stoplight. Which suddenly made the poem I’ve chosen as today’s daily poetry selection make a lot more sense to me.

And the spirit/feel of this poem… well, it couldn’t be more timely. Also, sometime, you should ask a Scot to say “robot” for you.

It’s awfully cute. I didn’t even ask for the “wee” part. You can always count on a Scot to add that bit in for free.

I Am With Those
Ingrid Jonker
I am with those
who abuse sex
because the individual doesn’t count
with those who get drunk
against the abyss of the brain
against the illusion that life
once was good or had beauty or sense
against the garden parties of falsehood
against the silence that beats into the temples
of those who poor and old
race against death the atom bomb of the days
and in shacks count the last flies on the walls
with those stupefied in institutions
shocked with electric currents
through the cataracts of the senses
with those who have been deprived of their hearts
like the light out of the robot of safety
with those coloured african dispossessed
with those who murder
because every death confirms anew
the lie of life
and please forget
about justice it doesn’t exist
about brotherhood it’s deceit
about love it has no right

Original

Met hulle is ek
wat seks misbruik
omdat die individu nie tel nie
met hulle wat dronk word
teen die afgrond van die brein
teen die illusie dat die lewe
eenmaal goed of mooi of betekenisvol was
teen die tuinpartytjies van die valsheid
teen die stilte wat slaan teen die slape
met hulle wat oud en arm
meeding met die dood die atoombom van die dae
met hulle verdwaas in inrigtings
geskok met elektriese strome
deur die katarakte van die sintuie
met hulle van wie die hart ontneem is
soos die lig uit die robot van veiligheid
met hulle kleurling african ontroof
met hulle wat moor
omdat elke sterfte opnuut bevestig
die leuen van die lewe
en vergeet asseblief
van geregtigheid dit bestaan nie
van broederskap dis bedrog
van liefde dit het geen reg nie

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