Couldn't help overhearing
"I mean, like, it's your property
so I thought, oh my god. . ."
a scrap of metadata caught on the wing
brayed into a pink mobile phone
by a thickset woman on a railway platform
upping the decibels as if she had a bad line
which she did then a worse line then another,
the message migrating to a monster warehouse
in a bald industrial estate to be picked
over and decrpyted by spooks who squeeze
her "oh my god" into a translation:
"I was awed. . .embarrassed. . .shamefaced. . .
disgusted. . .mortified etc." before they settle
on "at a loss for words" then try to guess
a context: a lessee explaining unspeciifed
damage to her landlord? A wife finding
a pair of strange knickers in the glovebox
of the car? Then the theories take
a turn for the weird. The important thing
is that nothing is unimpoprtant, even at
sixty-seven degrees of separation
and ambiguity from the seminal call,
a suspected terrorist sending his brother
a birthday text of curious phrasing, and odd
word resembling the first name of the braying
lady. Coincidence? Not what they're paid for.
She is now the hundred-thousandth name
on the watch-list, a milestone that wins her . . .
a set of steak-knives? Maybe not.
Anyhting she likes from the second shelf
of soft toys, the ones that say: "that's nice"
and roll over when you rub their bellies.
The system powers on at 2.5 teraflops
with an unknown number of bellyflops.
It sorts out stuff-ups at the speed of a thick
Attorney-General who doesn't give a toss.