MD Kerr


Transcription of a mysterious old manuscript, c.1700s, purporting to be a manual

Text of the poem

Affix the suction cup to each mind,
pressing firmly to ensure they’re tight.
Use the dial to select your transmission
and press the lever until you hear a ratchet click
to send.
The options marked on your dial are as follows:

  • goosebumps
  • lust
  • the smell of lilac
  • an appreciative sigh
  • laughter
  • uncontrollable weeping
Between these precise frequencies, you will find
the whole gamut of human experience. You may
hear bursts of music:
do not be alarmed.
The machine is extremely sensitive and prone
to picking up nearby earworms.
To eradicate these, you are advised to sing
Just Give Me A Reason
by Pink, until all other music has subsided.
Older users may also find success with
Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon,
she comes and –

Always be sure to select your frequency clearly
before depressing the lever.
If you hear a static hiss, that is merely
demons attempting to join the mind-meld and take possession:
twist the dial one notch further
to thwart their diabolical aims.

Engrave your own preferred frequencies onto the dial
with the diamond-tipped nib provided.
Experienced machinists find they’re quickly able
to switch between transmitted states,
using the foot pedal
to release the lever while turning the dial.

Never turn the dial with the lever in place.
This will not break the machine,
but it may render the other user(s) inchoate.

Used correctly, this machine can efficiently patch,
when used in conjunction, the deficincies of Zoom.

Thanks to The Writers' Greenhouse for the prompt to write a poem about an impossible machine.

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