Procedures

My current circumstances reminded me of this poem from 1997, when I was last signing on

Held on computer,
Another number among millions
– Less if you believe the figures –
They stand in queues
Waiting for the right to live.

Queues round and round, and round again,
Nothing better to do than read
The soothing notice by the door:
We aim to see you within ten minutes;
It’d be funny if laughing were allowed.

Sign here, fill that in,
Bring it with you next time.
An unending ritual where the rules
Keep changing, ever closer to the beast
At the centre of the maze,

But kept just out of reach,
A threat to be brought up as required
Should your cooperation be withheld.
And so you become part
Of your own reduction,

A shotgun wedding to a tyrant
Where divorce is forbidden,
Round and round the prison yard
Under his ever-watchful eye;
Bought and sold on the market system.

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