The Memory Machine (Public Beta Release) by Ian Gibbins

1. Initialisation

Demanding neon attention, our apparatus fires up, beckons contact, seeks conversation. Freshly minted coins drop, trip subliminal gears, follow snakeskin boots, bind our wind-burnt ears. We absorb these restless pulses, lasers shimmering cool through grid-locked holograms, intertwined with spectral traces too well-known to be true. What can we do but precipitate a surreptitious dance of petty thieves and grey-beard rustlers, a peculiar shuffle of tales we always thought we knew?

2. Data Streams

The weekend pummel breaches our wrought iron gate, warps our disputed edge of territory. Workaday morning miasmas, locally anesthetic, obliterate any sense of direction, choke hibiscus flowers pink on ground, beg the question, “What fills the minds of community dogs?” Complaints about the mange? Do they calculate rocket trajectories on Guy Fawkes Night? Wonder why Monkey Puzzle Trees drown in prehistoric mud? Do they care about snowy-haired boys gone feral, found missing again?

Perhaps not. Perhaps they ignore the darkening time when last bets are off, when cards fall this way or that, never quite adding up to the odds we have calculated for the next Big Win. Or else they might begrudge the sunrise we anticipate, perpetually awaiting the first bus out of town and twelve hours uninterrupted sleep. And possibly, they are right: there is nothing to worry about when we, blind-sided, race downhill, assuming that our tyres keep grip, that no one seamlessly dislocates around a claret ash, rattles too many unencumbered weather-boards. Naturally, we continue to ride: bicycles (now handle bar, now parcel rack), stolen tricycles, wheelbarrows, rattling wire-strung carts. We track the steps of men without names, chart a family tree, try to hazard a guess about motherhood, criminal intent, alimony and pay-out, in case it might matter, just in case it can actually make a difference.

So we abandon the dogs to their deliberations. Curiously versed in the physics of stonethrow, we shut our eyes, pedal on through blank unregistered years. At least until tomorrow, when we will plan our flight to the Crystal Palace, Aladdin’s Magic Cave, One Thousand Beautiful Princesses, the sequined Fairy Queen. There, high above aging hula palms, we will climb into a dream and glide through anti-gravity hoops, telescope a lolly-pop moon, wish our windows closed.

3. Backup Strategy

We should debug our programs, revalidate our interpreter. We ought to listen for undulating magnetic fields with the persistence of radioactive decay, the speed of circumpolar auroras. These must be our concluding entries, records of fortunes lost, diabolical beasts overcome, ascent to the limits of breath-hold, as though the world inevitably proceeds to run on schedule. We had best disregard cobwebs, misplaced end-of-section markers, rust and irredeemable corrosion, summer-dry weeds, chalk messages scrawled in code beside disconnected railway lines. Meanwhile, we can only hurry to stow unusable spare parts and seal up forever our insulated containers of binary recollection.

Ian Gibbins was an internationally recognised neuroscientist and Professor of Anatomy until he retired in 2014. His poetry has been widely published in-print, on-line and in public art installations and covers diverse forms including performance, electronic music, and video. He has published three full collections of poetry, two of which are in collaboration with artists. Find out more at