MACHINUS ROFOCALE. A Poem by Joseph Armstead

Tinny, brittle music wafts like cigar smoke

    from out the open doors to a dingy bar,

where the leather-coated Machine Men speak

    through plastic masks in rough whispers.

Today, the lemon sun above the amber fog of industrial haze will not shine —
And my Dream of You asphyxiates, ink-smudged and soiled, sinking into a bed of clouds…
i. The Exquisite Concatenation of Elastic Chaos
The victims march single file from the set
of a televised Game Show
where Time and Mind are manipulated
by strange mathematics and arcane
as the Automaton Master of Ceremonies explains
to these departing, blank-eyed contestants,
the Rules of Engagement for their commercial gain.
It’s all white noise
through a sound mixing board
by a synesthesiac
There is a sense of Order beneath
the overly-regimented
facile architecture
presented with unearned fanfare
to a comatose viewing audience.
Seeing this past the sutures
that have sewn its eyes shut,
Chaos is weary, but nonetheless amused.
The march of the disenfranchised penguins goes the wrong way.
Something bad is happening.
ii. A Spectrum of Contradictions in Deepest Black
No one is supposed to talk about it.
No one is supposed to know about it.
The secret is not kept hidden.
Maybe it is best that way.
Maybe transparency is best.
Maybe we need to know
that which we do not
want to know,
even though we have
suspected it
all along.
The Truth does not set you free.
It invades you like a virus,
invading, unwelcome and infectious,
and our expectations
darken and curl at the edges,
like smouldering paper as it burns.
It battles with our natural defenses,
revealing our immuno-deficiencies,
spotlighting weaknesses
in the Body Politic.
Chaos is weary, but nonetheless amused.
Something bad is happening.
iii. The Collapse of Zazen Structure During Fractured Fission
It is a quiet night in Shadow-Town.
The echoes of Industrial Authority
have begun to fade like the hush
of a far distant surf upon
the debris-strewn shore.
You are in my vision,
a focus of painful ecstasy,
the rupturing of heavy nuclei
under the relentless, streaming
of acrimonious proto-atomic
a rain of beauty and tragedy and fury,
… a dream …
accompanied by the sound of murmured prayers
spoken in an empty, unhallowed hall of mirrors
A consecrated Mass
that dares not be spoken
too loud, lest the potency
of its message
be lost
past the dark, open maw
and down the deep gullet,
of a bird of carrion prey.
I can see the blossoming
of your growing decay,
an alien viral corruption.
Seeing this past the sutures
that have sewn its eyes shut,
Truth does not reveal itself.
Maybe it is best that way.
The leather-coated Machine Men
are pallbearers
of my Dream Of You.
Chaos is amused, but nonetheless bitter.
Something bad is happening.


Joseph Armstead is a suspense-thriller and horror author living in the United States’ San Francisco Bay Area. Author of a dozen short stories and ten novels, his poetry has been published in a wide range of online journals, webzines and print magazines. A mathematician, Futurist and computer technologist, Mr. Armstead’s poetry often defies easy description, but frequently includes neo-classical imagery, surrealist viewpoints and post-modern themes.
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