Prism, Secrets

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Blake Morrison


This poem is a surveillance device.

It is checking your emails, intercepting your calls,

reading your thoughts before you have them.


When that secret you’d not tell to a soul

bobbed past us like a Coke can in the river,

we hoiked it out and stowed it in our files.


All citizens need protecting from themselves.

We’ve made copies of your intimate photos.

We know the websites you go to for your kicks.


Remember those words you wrote in your cups?

That you thought you’d erased? We found them

in the ether, awaiting transfer to a dropbox:


The empty bird feeders sway in the wind.

There’s light through the mesh where the nuts were stored

And the seeds for the goldfinch have all flown.




This poem has been detained on suspicion

Of possessing secrets – sensitive information

Illicitly come by, such as the gap between first and last

Drafts. Adverbs have been seized that could assist

The enemy, and commas taken away for further

Analysis. Meanwhile the poem is being interrogated over

Its use of enjambment, recently banned under anti-terrorist

Law: ‘There are lines no poet should cross.

We want to know what you’re hiding between

Them. Enough of your subtexts. It’s time you came clean.

Who’ve you been drawing on? Why no trochees? What’s your

View of Auden?’ The light bulb is dazzling, the mirror

Two-way, and phoning for a lawyer out of the question.

Any minute the poem will make a full confession.


Blake Morrison is a poet and novelist, best known for his memoirs 'And When Did You Last See Your Father?' and 'Things my Mother Never Told me'. His latest book is a pamphlet called 'This Poem...'.



While government watches you, who watches the government?