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Poem: "Sleepers in the City" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Sleepers in the City"

This poem is from the June 4, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by haikujaguar, siliconshaman, and Dreamwidth user Elliemurasaki.  It has been sponsored by technoshaman


Sleepers in the City


It was a great success
when scientists discovered
how to communicate with coma patients
through scanning their brain waves.
It would give people a way to interact
and might, in time, lead to a cure for their condition.

It was a great disappointment
when no such cure emerged.
People who went into comas
mostly came out quickly or not at all,
and that's how it stayed.

But then something different happened --
the scientists learned how to connect those sleepers,
mind to mind, through the computer
they had been using to communicate.

They didn't need to be in the same room,
or even the same country;
suddenly all the coma patients in the world
were a city unto themselves --

a city that always dreamed,
but never really slept.

They were in there,
inside the humming computer banks,
inside their softly breathing shells of flesh;
they were alive and vital
and doing the kinds of things
that people usually do.

They told stories and made art,
danced and sang and threw parties without end.
They tried to vote, were denied, sued for suffrage and won.
They were into politics and activism and religion.
They met the nicest people in their dreams,
fell in love and got married.

The doctors were shocked
when infant-minds began appearing the system,
but really, they of all people
should have seen that one coming.

* * *

Notes:

People have long questioned whether some coma patients might be conscious, just unable to respond.  A recent article describes using a brain scan to allow them to answer yes/no questions.

Erasure and misrepresentation are problems in media portrayals of disability.  One ubiquitous trope is characters waking from a coma.  I wanted to take this in a different direction: not erasing the (in this case, full-body) handicap but rather finding a way to compensate for it enough to enable people to continue some part of their lives.

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Current Mood: busy busy

9 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: technoshaman Date: June 8th, 2013 02:21 am (UTC) (Link)
*laughter* you and endings!

Reminds me of "Inner Light"...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 8th, 2013 02:33 am (UTC) (Link)

Yay!

>> *laughter* you and endings! <<

I'm glad you liked it.

>> Reminds me of "Inner Light"... <<

I am deeply flattered by this comparison. Thank you!
rosieknight From: rosieknight Date: June 8th, 2013 05:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Great poem! The ending made me laugh, but also made me wonder.

What becomes of the infant minds? Do they live in the computers connecting the dreamers? Are they harmed when the coma patients leave the dream? How do they perceive the worlds of the dream-city and the larger world? Is it possible for the kids to move between their home city and the outside world?

If nothing else, it'll give me something interesting to think about during the slow periods at work...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 8th, 2013 06:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>>Great poem! The ending made me laugh, but also made me wonder.<<

I'm glad you like this.

>> What becomes of the infant minds? Do they live in the computers connecting the dreamers? <<

Yes, they live in the computers.

>> Are they harmed when the coma patients leave the dream? <<

No, they have their own independent existence.

>>How do they perceive the worlds of the dream-city and the larger world?<<

They would perceive the dream city as their home. The larger world ... may not seem fully real to them, just a place that sometimes sends messages.

>> Is it possible for the kids to move between their home city and the outside world? <<

No. They have a birth defect of being bodyless.

>> If nothing else, it'll give me something interesting to think about during the slow periods at work... <<

Cool!
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: June 8th, 2013 07:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

Computer-run bodysuits like powered armour to let the computer-born visit and interact with the out of the computer world...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 8th, 2013 07:44 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thank you!

That's a good idea, and something like it has been done in some settings. I don't think it will work in this one.
elliemurasaki From: elliemurasaki Date: June 8th, 2013 04:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
...infant minds in a dream world? HOW DOES THAT WORK.

:-D
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 9th, 2013 06:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Well...

Matter and energy coexist and can transpose. Bodies are matter, souls are energy. If you rub two bodies together, sometimes bits stick together and make a new body. The same is true of souls. Once present, the infants exist in the same dimension as their parents.
elliemurasaki From: elliemurasaki Date: June 9th, 2013 01:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well...

Okay, I guess that makes sense.
9 comments or Leave a comment