am a child alone,
the neighborhood could not care less.
A nose-counting game today spells
my existence in the monitor of
the Census Man’s computer.
am counted, assigned this number –
this frail figure with a
prepossessing chaff –
entered among a couple of thousands more,
a logbook corner tends a multitude.
The Census Man meanwhile says that
a world is getting too nosy,
‘You can’t hide away from it,
not anymore in your whole
damned taxed life.’
Yet hidden now behind a tiny number
who would know I am this face,
this countenance, this mind?
this child slave of the weeping moon
melting with the sunrise in this,
the collective boom.
Society becomes a quantitative heap,
and there is a newly-devised game
of finding who is who behind
the jilting ribs of numerals,
a cluster of pins with which to lance
the individual soul, his identity
gone frog-sticking in the starkest night
without a single bit of light.
© SSJ 1976
The ‘The Nose-Counting Game’ is one of 5 poems of an untitled collection written in late 1975 and early 1976. The collection saw publication in the Focus Philippines magazine issue of 21 August 1976. It is a poem about the conundrum of not being able to hide from the greater power of a system that wants to further hide you under the sheer numbers of its big data. – SSJ, 28 July 2017