The Language of the Future
In the language of the future
today will always be today
and the moments will sparkle like bearings.
There will always be enough time
to get things done
because there will always be
enough hours in the day.
Countries will be divided up
into hexagons, and every hexagon
will be occupied by
a new idea. Everywhere
will be connected directly
with everywhere else
by the infallible laws
Straight lines will flow
into straight lines
across the golden fields,
across the golden fields melting
into the golden cities.
Gold will grow on vines.
In the future, language will also
grow on a vine, and everything we say
will be understood. People
will be able to speak their minds,
so that the world will seem
at first astonishing
and then strangely quiet. Some will begin
to choose their words carefully, but most
will come to regard communication
with a lengthening suspicion, so that eventually
the sounds themselves
will be granted independence
—and then held accountable.
As such, in the language of the future
the revelations of the new freedoms
will be the property of everyone
Breasts will become a
universal validating standard
and fat people
will be made illegal. Cars
will finally be included in
the Bill of Rights
and granted protection from
and other forms of
The emancipation of signs
will be the speed of change.
For in the future, brain retention will decrease
but thought-count will expand,
so that poking out one’s tongue
will be just the tip
of the iceberg.
And although the space separating words
from everything else
will have ceased to be, research will continue
and a distant descendant of Henry James
will discover a way of measuring exactly
the spaces between words.
Mapping will begin, and the first settlers
will arrive and gaze straight through
all that lies before them
whatever will be.
With the new discoveries
the insides of language
will be found to be made up of
trillions of interconnecting spheres.
Thus, the insides of many things
will come to be similarly
constructed, so that when a man
inserts his opinion
into a woman, her insides too
will glisten with spheres, which will whirr
and retract and increase slightly
in temperature. Teenagers courting in parents’ cars
will no longer do donuts, but will do spheres,
and, as the verbs decline, their rear-vision mirrors
will display the past
like kinetic sculpture.
Babies will start to be born with wheels,
making it easier
to get around.
Within the language of the future
everything will be different
and instantly recognisable.
We will touch our golden bodies together
and they will touch their golden bodies
together, and so on and so on.
But there will still be the stories
for we will always have the need
to be guided by voices. ‘Listen,’ they already whisper,
‘under the bushes, under the stars,
a cool hand talks silently, love …’
Anyone called James Brown growing up anywhere in the Western World during the 1970s was going to inherit a raft of high expectations, not to mention creative hurdles. The poetry of Palmerston North-born James Brown has risen well above this challenge. His writing is characterised by its infectious beats, rampant futurism (much in evidence in 'The Language...') and a brisk, heady handling of the lyric mode. All of which has led one critic of New Zealand literature to describe James Brown as 'The James Brown of New Zealand poetry'. Blessed with an intelligent and colourful family, a trusted mountain bike and a wide-ranging intelligence, he offers a distinctive brand of linguistic High Life, delivered in a manner that is usually droll and ironically self-regarding. The New Zealand James Brown (born 1966) knows how to work the crowd but, most of the time, opts for a far subtler routine.
James Brown's most recent collections are Favourite Monsters (2002), The Year of the Bicycle (2006) and Warm Auditorium (2012) all from Victoria University Press. Further details and links to other poems: https://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/writers/brownjames.html