Hug Machine

Colie Hoffman


In the end it seems
no one can deal
with the hug machine.
The people at this barbecue
surpass the need for touch.
We measure Earth’s circumference again and again
and speak of this
in hushed, cerebral tones.

Later we steal sidelong glances
at one another’s mouths.
Still it stands

that grotesque box
in the courtyard—
in its own skin,
demanding nothing.

At the silent caucus we agree
to discuss nothing
that reminds us of our inner lives.
No one kills anything
humanely anymore.

Instead we shoot a pig
and roast it on a spit.
We learn how now
before every slaughterhouse in San Francisco

We fear it.
We burn it but it resists.

When looking at the hug machine
we must protect ourselves
from every un-hugged hug inside it.

Its mattress, folding in half
to envelop us. The mechanical whirr
of its tender operations.
How it could make us feel
so soothed.
How it could accept us
beyond acceptance.