Sushi Robot Prepares the Way

According to the students at my university,
among the features of the new cafeteria
that opened in fall is a Sushi Robot—

which I thought would be an updated version
of Rosie the Robot Maid from that old sixties
cartoon, The Jetsons, until I searched

the internet for a helpful YouTube
which showed me a boxlike contraption
smaller than an ATM but larger

than a water cooler, capable of pressing out
a uniformly thin square of cooked sushi rice
upon which one can proceed to quickly lay

a sheet of nori and on top of that,
precisely measured slices of avocado,
carrots, and crab sticks

before the revolving belt platform
retracts and an arm pushes down
to fold the roll in thirds

before sliding it out onto a waiting
plastic tray. First it was the Roomba,
that circular robotized disc

quietly whirring as it went, eating dust
from room to room. Next came all the talk
about the self-driving Tesla X, capable

of accelerating from 0 to 60 in two
seconds flat. Some think this is the beginning
of our end, a future drawing nearer when we

and our hungers will simply be extruded
from one end of a pipe to the other for the sake
of efficiency, with no intervening time to meditate

on what it all means. Will there be any
further need to work, or will everyone have
access to basic income? With work distributed

to mechanized devices, will we finally enter
the temple of true pleasure, knowledge of which we
have only ever known because of its differentiation

from pain? Will there be reading and writing,
will there be poems? Will we hold our fingers up
to the light, trying to recall what they were for?


In response to Via Negativa: Circumscribed.

Posted in

Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What Is Left of Wings, I Ask (forthcoming, 2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

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