Barcode Ode

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Checksum and glyph. Razor-slit gaps between start-markers. Quiet zone. Each explains itself and all it knows in silent lines packed tight as eyelashes, the teeth of a comb, a ventilator’s bellow-squeeze become stamp-sized. A city in fog, the skyline wan

from across the bay. If Blake saw flecks of sand as worlds, what trapped infinities of ones and zeroes might populate these X-dimensions summoned by a cardinal chirp of light? Never mind the snapped-on patient ID bracelet, the IV needle’s pinch as it descends.

Never mind how many hands have touched, dear friend, your pulse, how the isolation gown-strings slip open as you grope in and out of sleep. Aware or not of what the RN says, you wouldn’t want even these sentences catching you so prone. Forgive what words offend.

All message and no art, a means of meaning, tight-lipped and bristly as a sutured mouth, it can’t deceive. Nor can it tell the truth, containing multitudes, mute catalogs dense as baleen, thin as a centipede’s legs, charred grove of matchsticks after rain still steaming.