Age of the Machine

Genie MacLeod

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

In an effort to make the work housed in our print issues available to a wider audience, yolk digitizes a select few pieces from each print issue! “Age of the Machine” by Genie MacLeod first appeared in the Vol. 3.2, Winter 2023 Issue.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Yolk began as an electric conversation around a picnic table in Saint Henri Square.

Our scruffy pioneer and present prose editor had previously approached each of us with an idea, a vision: We would establish our own literary magazine in Montreal. And so it was, or so it would be. After that original encounter, eight individuals devoted to the word resolved that they would gather bi-weekly, on Sundays, and bring something new into this busy, manic world—something that might slow its spin down somewhat and cause its patronage to say: “You know what, it ain’t so bad, is it, Susan?”

We are undergraduate, graduate, and graduated students of writing. Some of us learn our craft formally from accomplished authors in seminar courses, and some of us learn by looking out the window of the world and onto the streets that sing below. Some of us learn from screaming squirrels, old curtains, departed grandfathers, and bowel movements. We learn from old lovers, long winters, imperfect mothers, and from the deep internet where a musical genius remains entombed.

Yolk is cold floors on Sabbath mornings, home-brewed ginger beer in the endless afternoon, and downpours of French-pressed coffee in assorted artisanal mugs. Our first official gathering was scheduled for a duration of two hours; most of us remained for six, departing only to attend to the summons of our own beckoning realities. Together, with time suspended, we talked endlessly of contributing something to disrupt Montreal’s literary ecosystem. Something unparalleled, something true.

But what? There was nothing to discuss. There was everything to discuss.

We volunteer our time, hounding some elusive beast composed of combustible words and works. We are hopeful, truly hopeful, that we can give something new, a new way, a new light, and that if we cannot, we might at least uphold the traditions of our predecessors, cast star-wide nets to capture their echoes. We are a thousand decisions. We are a sanctuary for the orphaned word, the solitary writer, the cereal-eating artist who yearns for company, for the comfort of a like mind; we sit together with them at foggy dawn, it rains a baptism, with our arms and hands intertwined, we form an umbrella—underneath, they scribble madly, the perfect picture.

Yolk in no way presumes to be superior to its contemporaries, but its contemporaries should not presume yolk to be anything other than loud—quite, quite loud. We are yippidy jazzed to address the oh-so-technicolorful magnificence of the human experience, but we are prepared also to address the ugliness, to stare at its wet, hairy snout and into its square depth and to roar in return at the things that yearn to devour our skin, beset our ethos, and dig graves in our own backyards.

There’s so much to say, there’s so much we don’t know, but together, with you, we can placate that ignorance, render it peaceful, tolerable, and perhaps even, fucking beautiful.

And Susan says, “Amen.”

You squeal as the claws descend
to grab the bin by the ankles.
Cling wrap, bottle caps,

those little pastel tokens
that close the throats
of bread bags, all swallowed whole.

Up and down the block, other
toddling worshippers flock
to windows and porch fronts

to salute their mighty god.
Attendants, kind-eyed and steel-
armed, hoist the offerings high

overhead as the metal guts
shatter and grind. I know
these are my own metaphors

I’m trying to feed you.
My own fears. You grin and wave
your small hand whose veins

course with nanoplastics,
your body already a sacrifice.
After the feast, you gleefully shunt

your own green and hungry beast 
across the carpet, collecting 
the detritus of our day—

Duplo bricks, spent sticker sheets,
a bouncy ball marbled like Jupiter—
cackling as you clatter it all back

to the floor again and again.
This is the age of the machine: all
noise and need and casual destruction.

Our bounty will continue
to increase; the ritual to repeat.
We’ll press our ears to the glass,

awaiting thunder. 

Genie MacLeod (she/her) is a production editor for a children’s book publisher. Her poems have appeared in Arc Poetry Magazine, Funicular Magazine, The New Quarterly and Prairie Fire. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.

Products from this story

No items found.

Additional reading

august

Sicilian Blue