Leviathan, Neil Aitken

From here, you lay bare the world,
table after table—column after column:

each thing known and numbered, counted
like sparrows in their open graves,

the heartbeats of pigs, the staggered breathing
of cattle in low country fields. Each significant.

A sign. A signature. The quantity of ink
spread on the printer’s block. Silk threads,

caterpillars, calico scarves and handkerchiefs.
The number of stones or red bricks thrown

by drunken men at your windows. The strokes
of a loom operated by a man or a machine.

-- excerpted from Babbage at His Desk, Enumerating the Known World, from Leviathan

About Neil Aitken

Neil Aitken is the author of The Lost Country of Sight (Anhinga, 2008), which won the Philip Levine Prize, and Babbage’s Dream (Sundress, 2016), which was a semi-finalist for the Anthony Hecht Prize. He is also the founding editor of Boxcar Poetry Review, as well as the curator of online resources Have Book, Will Travel and Chapbook Review. His work has been published in American Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Dialogist, Ninth Letter, The Normal School, The Southern Poetry Review, and many other journals. A former computer games programmer, he has held fellowships from both Kundiman and Idyllwild, and recently completed a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California where he wrote about nineteenth-century artificial intelligence, Frankenstein’s creature, Sherlock Holmes, and Babbage’s efforts to mechanized reason. He now lives in the Pacific Northwest where he builds websites, teaches online, and writes poetry and fiction. Visit him at www.neil-aitken.com.