Oliver Fox

Jörmungandr/World Snake


       1. Discovery

A bar down in Peckham with a poor choice of name,
twenty full years since the 32 10. A UX designer
draws a circle through a Moleskine, tears the page,
holds it up to the light like a forgery.

On Old Street, there’s another one
dragging a pen like a hammer, another circle,
West Kensington, Muswell Hill, same shit, different paisley,
all of us, this is what consensus looks like.

As consensus gets weirder it becomes omen.
from those four compass points
phones will wake up in a haptic chorus
shivering down bedside tables into bins and hampers,

a pocket to pocket chain of phones
going inward to the Thames
green rectangles of long-dead backlights
punching their holes through the leather of the river’s murk.

We’ll see you there, silhouetted against all those
old handsets dropped from party boats and bridges,
Flip phones, palm pilots, even an N-Gage or two,
they remember you, World Snake –


       2. Onboarding

A curve of men across your skin, brothers of the tech,
all Triforce tattoos and Baldur’s Gate keychains,
we’ll zipline over you, holding lanyards in our teeth like knives,
throwing harpoons engraved with the names of Kickstarter backers.

Ouroboros, supercollider, self-taster, self
sustainer, yeah, you spin those wavelength offcuts.
Video, audio, hadrons, byrons, old celebrities and new slang –
you know, a fast metabolism does make for a weaker meme.

But what we’d still give to get inside you,
to rip at one another’s pie and mash aprons
for scoopfuls of guts thick with slime
the sweet colour of, let’s say, Amblin Entertainment.

Someday, you’ll make a fine onboarding experience,
so let us lift you from the river,
release that catfish-puckered jaw from its endless dinner,
yank it out, fibre-optic cable, a ringworm.


       3. Scaffolding

In what our partners in America
call The Bleachers, in what our partners
in America call Murder Town, beyond
the Harlem Shakers and Kerouac cosplayers,

there’s been some talk of cost, the long damp to come,
the big hangover, the spilling of tatty loose rizlas
and old Scientology leaflets from our rucksacks.
We’ll have to burn through all those extra lives accumulated in earlier, easier stages

and by the good wet graces of our salt and scuttle,
unhook ourselves from your refried hot takes and mould-spotted jpegs.
Let’s wheeze out the decades of carbon monoxide and ironic mixtapes,
embrace the risks of your capture and begin again.

You can’t keep tumbling over yourself,
a buffering icon endlessly rolling, and we know that
when stopped you’ll shower us in eels and venom and old lighters
and phones and forgotten Kray Twin bodies –  real things, objects –

in what our partners in America call The Splash Zone,
where Greenwich and Deptford all drowns the same.
Look, a pram, a crate of Bier De Luxe, flotsam.
We’ll put you back, somewhere nice. There are new shapes,

and you, of infinity, of level-up fanfares and daily quest timers,
two thousand XP till your next unlock, you, of gold, fruit, zenny, coins,
endless, drawing then into now, folding us in,
a hinge, a wormhole, the sweet science. Let us meter you,

a complement of progress bars in increments of tiny pleasure.
The object of cliche is to avoid cliche, this is also the object of capital,
and even you can be reimagined, through sound engineers,
QA testers, Gods and uncles. Hey, dip-switch. Slow down.


Oliver Fox is a writer and arts producer based in London. He was 3rd Prize winner in the Verve Poetry Competition 2018. As a journalist he and has been a staff writer at Jivetalk.co.uk and contributing editor at outermode.com.