Stephen Blair


(r-o-b-o-t   e-g-g-s)

i. Sidewalk Sale

Their sleek sides return my unastonished glance. They might be content, nestled among the calculators and bandannas. Lukewarm in my hands, this dull-silver egg is complacent as a child. Under today's reflected sky it looks like a gift from a robin. Trees overhead dim and stretch as my eyes follow the oval curve. Rotated between my palms, cirrus down streams on metal skin. Closer now, my reflected eyes stream toward both ends.
    Such oval tools: triplets so small they don't need rolling and they're too big to lose. I can find them a way home.

ii. Eggtooth

Once activated, each egg is its own incubator, my rug near the window their nest. I turn them at dusk. The reflected moon finds each orb, where it sprawls like a ticking yolk. Fissures crawl, slow lightning tracing remembered circuits wrapping my swollen bells, my basket of moons.

(Each self-assembling structure siphons off the petrol sulfide yolk
and detaches itself from the + and - power cell wall.)

A first tooth rises--eggshell splits--ice yielding to a periscope--With no thought of eating the pieces, a gawking colt on derrick legs chickensteps into my life. It approaches my chair with hydraulic precision.
    I've no fear, because it thinks I'm its mother, following me about until my Remote condemns it to sculpture. Its brothers wobble like Xmas ornaments without a tree. With a shell fragment to my ear, there's no ocean, only a dim hum.

iii. The Automaton

Sovereign to a triple demiurge, I remake my world: doillies were never smoother and no webs complicate high corners. Only the automatons know when it's best to water a violet or how to spice sauce for veal. I navigate their new course from sofa to table.

(Each self-compiling binary database
translates options into the purchaser's verbal code.)

Freed at last for reading and chess, I dine while they sing. And what did I do to celebrate my leisure? I wrote this. Most of it.
    At my will they are user-friendly or distant as art. My broom is as useless as remembered knowledge, which they correct without command. New wallpaper spreads like a habit. Our conversation offends neighbors who are ignorant of cantatas and misread cues for parting.


Shadow Octopus

(From a child's biology project.)

It swims darkly

on newsprint peeled from 8 limp arms

inked darker than clouds from a squid.

The paper is buckled from cup-pocked limbs

that released it with black regret--

creature helpless as a criminal

booked into the sea of inhumanity,

a victim with too many toes to tag (or not enough)

and eyes too bulbous to be closed by pennies

or mouths of tubas.

This print speaks of spidery fishnet stockings,

swimming through a child's imagination

with 8 brutal arms to ward off trademarks and logos

while ink's at high tide.



Some years ago, I was saving tattered aluminum foil to donate to a recycling center. I wadded the foil into balls, which over the months grew into metallic ovals, suggesting robot eggs to my imagination.

This work is a dystopian cautionary tale as practiced by Orwell and Huxley. Furthermore, the style and tone reflect the influence of Sylvia Plath.


When a child gave me a print peeled from an octopus, I tacked the image to my wall.