Poem a Day #8 : Test Results

Ascii Codes

A bit morbid this one. I do contract business analysis work, mainly I.T. related. A lot of my work has been for government health departments. A number of times, I’ve worked on systems which process the results of medical tests. Some need to record deaths of patients. Computer systems do this without any regard for the human suffering involved in a diagnosis of, say, cancer. To a computer system, a death is just a code in a file. It doesn’t care whether the code means ‘living’ or ‘dead’, ‘cancerous’ or ‘benign’.

This poem is about those files which zoom around networks, carrying these codes.


Test Results

This jumble of binary

has no conscience


This string of alpha-numeracy

harbours no self-doubt


Strung out between its delimiters

are impending death sentences


Compressed in its encryptions

are surgical incisions and chemical incursions


Here, snuggled between two commas

is a brooding malignancy


And here, by an asterisk and backslash

are chronic years of misery


No epitaph can rival

the precision, the expertise


of these candid symbols

these digital idiot savants


© Mike Hopkins 2014

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