Oliver Sedano-Jones

Oliver Sedano-Jones is a British-Peruvian poet. His psychobiography of the current POTUS, Donald Trump: The Rhetoric was published by Eyewear Publishing in 2016, as was his first chapbook, chronic youth, which was reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement in 2017. His poetry was commended for the 2018 Yeats Prize and the 2019 University of Hertfordshire Single Poem Prize.

“Punkish and lacerating” – Times Literary Supplement

“An exciting new voice in British poetry” – Chris Jackson

Twitter: @SedanoJones

d A.I. l o g u e


Where’s it all gone wrong? I ask, my voice a narrow wail. Just relax, says my bedside table, in the voice of my mother. A warm voice, like burnt earth.

Agreed, says my carpet, in the voice of my father, metallic and blue. Happiness is reality minus expectations, like I’ve always told you.

Do try to sleep now, says the bedside table, in the voice of my mother again.  But, I say. No buts, says my duvet. Sleep now for a bright full day tomorrow. Life passes just like that.

To care less is the best form of self-care, say my curtains, in the voice of Jules.  Weird choice, I think. Is my Implant malfunctioning? Sorry about that, says my Implant. Probably not the voice you want to hear right now.

Don’t worry about it, I say, in my head. And in my voice. I’m going to sleep now, I promise. I can put the black lake on if you like, says my Implant. The black lake and the night stars and the quivering silence.

That’s okay, I say. I’ll do it myself. So I do. The night lake with faint silhouettes of fluttering gulls. The amber globs of reflected starlight. The shimmer of wings and waves on the wild empty water. At the same time I count backwards from 3000 in 3s – 2997, 2994, 2991, 2988….




A series of light tones, pleasant tones. Ravel is playing the piano. I am awake.

Good morning, says the sun, softly through the curtains. The piano notes melt in the sun’s voice like honey in yoghurt. I open my eyes, then close them.

Time to get up now, says the sun, a little lower and less sweet. I’d rather not, I say, eyes still closed. My voice feels thin and brittle, like I could crack it in my teeth on its way out.

Time to get up now, the sun repeats, low like a cello, underscoring the Ravel. I open my eyes again. All the things I need to do to get from bed to work amass dutifully in my mind. I run through them quickly, as if imagining them will make them happen faster. I feel anxious at the pace of it. My body hasn’t moved.

The flesh is weak and the will is also weak, says a voice in the room.

Is that you, Dad? I ask. I try to move but can’t. Sorry, I say. Just don’t have the willpower today.

Winners don’t need willpower, says my lightbulb, switching itself on. It squats on the ceiling like an upside-down, incandescent sports coach. Routine, Habit, Discipline, it says. Make Success the Habit of Every Single Day. Say it with me. It brightens as it talks, seeming to expand and fill the whole room. The curtains are unfurling now, bringing in even more light from outside. Shine and Rise, says the sun, streaming in. The Ravel has become torrential, arpeggiated cascades sweeping through the room’s new patterns of light and shadow.

I’m trying, I moan. My hands crawl protectively onto my eyes like two hairless spiders. What’s for breakfast? I ask. What do I wear?

Toast and scrambled eggs! Calls my toaster from the kitchen. Blue chinos and a sensible jumper, purrs my wardrobe. I reach over to snooze the Ravel, then remember I don’t have a phone any more. There are no more phones. What time is it?

Time to get up, says my mattress.

My body starts to wriggle a little, as if deep in thought.

I Am Strong, says my pillow.

I Am Proactive, declares my mattress.

I Am In Control Of My Life, assert my windows, in chorus.

I Am Awake, concludes my Implant. I have walked into the kitchen. Can’t wait to start the day.

Feed me toast, the toaster commands, cheerfully. Two slices please. I put them in. The toast sighs a little as the red prongs burn its faces. Laughter detonates somewhere in the back of my mind.

Wouldn’t it be nice to step in for a quick warm shower now? Whispers my shower. As I hear these words, I’m suspended for a moment between the buttering of my toast and the stepping into of my shower. The moment is long and shaped like a bridge. I am standing on the bridge and watching a river of grass flow under either side. There are figures standing on the river, familiar figures, important people. Life is important, I remember. Then the sky clicks and whirs like a film reel. The bridge rotates out of sight and I am buttering my toast and putting it in my mouth and chewing it, remembering to enjoy the taste of buttered toast. Sometimes my toast likes to scream comically as it is eaten, but not today.

Shower time, says my skin, with an anticipatory shiver. I walk into the bathroom. The shower is full of birdsong. The birdsong blends pleasantly with the Ravel. Soon we will all be at work.




Go on, says Jules, in his lovely tenor. My mouth is busying itself making nice words for him. We’re managing an average 80% Implant penetration on a cubic volume basis but a lot of that’s ropey on actual coverage, says my mouth.

Go on, he murmurs. His beautiful blonde hair hums quietly to itself. Jules, my mouth says. I’m going to explain this as best I can, so bear with me.

Normally, when we implant a carpet, we binarise its whole marketable area in our penetration metrics – it’s either smart or it’s dumb. If it’s smart, we measure all that square footage as Implanted and add it to our total capitalisation.

Jules’ neck arcs his skull into a gracious nod. Our cubicle is playing soothing binaural beats to help me concentrate. My mouth continues:

But most of the time only around 15% of the carpet’s potential I-nodes – hollowed polyester fibres – have actually got Implants in them. Now, for an average user, that’s more than enough. But if you compare the carpet Implant Ratio in your average home with that in, say, in the office, where the IR is more like 70%, the net processing power can be as much as a hundred or a thousand times lower.

An intern walks past the cubicle. He looks around with an anxious expression. Pay attention, says my Implant to my eyes, in the voice of my father talking to my mother.

That means reduced sensitivity to things like step location, velocity, weight, says my mouth. And that means vague readings on higher order metrics like step mood, which is one of the key I-mood ranking factors. And like I was explaining yesterday, that’s where the real cash is at, in terms of maxing out user journeys and I-personalisation.

I hear you, says Jules, in the voice of Jules. He’s glazing over, says my Implant. And indeed he seems to be, eyes shiny and hard like maraschino cherries. You’ve bored him, my Implant accuses. I open my mouth to argue, but there seems to be nothing more to say.

Do you think, says Jules. Do you think I could have a real quick 121 with your. You know. The cubicle’s beats fade to ambience. Just to clarify a few points.

I open my mouth again, but seem to be receding from it. Stop, I say to my mouth, but a big blue ghost is welling up inside me, getting in between me and my eyes and my lips. It’s a warm blue like a summer sky, full of streaking clouds and happy birds. Jules is vanishing in a pale haze.

Hello Jules, I hear my mouth say, in the voice of my father. So good to see you. Let me break this down for you. I see Jules receding from his own face. His cheeks are slackening. Now hardening. Something else is there now, terse and precise. Then the blue is all awash over me.




Want to watch something while you wait? Asks a voice in the blue. A cold beer is tossed in my direction. But there’s no direction it to be tossed from. My hand reaches for it anyway and I feel a cold cylinder snap in my palm. But there’s nothing there. Not even my hands. We could watch Black Panther 3? Says the voice. I’d rather not, I say. A screen fuzzes into the blue. Didn’t you want to finish watching Feynman’s lecture on gravitation? Asks the voice of my father. Or you could finish up those Shakespeare sonnets, adds the voice of my mother. Mum, I’ve been meaning to ask you something, I say. But I can’t remember what it is. The problem of what drives the planets in orbit was answered by saying there were angels – here – pushing them along, says Feynman. He is standing at a chalkboard in a grainy, white-dotted haze. I test my legs, and they seem to shift. But when I try to look down, I find I have no eyes to look with. As we’ll see, that answer is not very far from the truth, says Feynman. The only difference is that the angels sit in a different direction and the wings beat this way. I decide to soundtrack Feynman with some of the morning’s Ravel. I lean back and try to imagine the planets orbiting, wafting round the sun on the wings of angels as the galaxy tingles with piano tones. Only there isn’t much room in my head for imagining, what with my Implant using my brain to conjure Feynman and Ravel and my parents, and at the same time going full manual on my body while trying to explain complex I-price/capitalisation differentials to Jules out there in the office. But then begins a journey in my head to work my mind, when body’s work’s expired, says Shakespeare. For then my thoughts, from far where I abide, intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee…




Right, says Jules. I need you to draw up a concentration v. penetration trade-off matrix, pronto. Right, I say, blinking. There’s a weird taste in my mouth. Think you can get that done this afternoon? says Jules. He seems very far away. We did it already, whispers my Implant. The report floats into my inner vision, a squiggle of graphs with soaring gradient-lines and sharp cross-hatching. Profit and UX dovetail neatly around at around 80%. Beyond that risks distortion, death, or even litigation, once you hit the high 90s. Zones of 95+% implantation are uninhabitable, and relegated to suburban parklands where the majority of the network’s processing power resides. It’s all very lucid.

Go on, show him, says my Implant. He’ll be pleased.

I’ll get on it right away, I say to Jules. Brilliant, he says. His hand removes itself from my shoulder. I wonder how long it’s been there.

What are you doing? asks my Implant. I walk out of the cubicle.




My office chair is reclining against my desk, ergonomic and twinkling. It bats felt lashes at me. Sit boy, it commands. This is a joke we share. Not today, I say. I feel a bit unwell. I remove my eyes from the chair. They squeal at the effort. Above us, the ceiling’s strip lights hiss, stuttering as a faulty light panel flickers over the intern’s desk. The ventilation ducts sigh and weep tiny drips of condensation. Baby feeling poorly? asks my desk fan, in a voice of thin concern. My monitor mumbles something in my defence, a single line of light flowing lazily along on its screen. My hard drive gazes up at me through a single green bloody eye. Feeling poorly are we? rumbles the long radiator that runs along my desk’s adjacent wall. My sick-leave hours flash on my lids like right-angled lightning. He has a report to write, gloats the air con. Good numbers this quarter though, responds an excitable patch of wall panelling. Such a good worker aren’t you, murmurs the office plant, draping its leaves round its body like green veils. Maybe just do five minutes and see how you feel. Sometimes getting started is the hardest part. Action Precedes Motivation, as they say. Give me a second, I tell them.

I walk away from my desk towards the bathrooms. Plugs and sockets fizzle underfoot. The spare phone chargers congregate in an unused pile, staring vacantly upwards. On every desk I pass there’s a mouse grazing on its mouse-pad, or rolling on it luxuriously, or licking the pad with an optical laser like a small red tongue. Wheelie-chairs swivel, papers rustle, lamps flutter, drawers swish and clap, blinds sway and shiver, sun rings in the window panes. It’s all a bit much. A lot of voices in here, I think. A lot of voices. A whole lot of voices. A very vocal lot, these voices.

Aren’t we? say the voices.

One smart object talks animatedly to a second and a second to a third and a third to a fourth and all are dressed in highly Implantable plastics and synthetic fibres, and all are exchanging high-density data the way humans swap gossip.

If I listen closely, I can hear the cold whispers of the strip-bulbs streaming down from the ceiling panels. The quiet moaning of the ventilation ducts. The humming chorus of monitors in long stern rows, all wearing the same bright blank expression. A rapt blankness on the monitors, on the managers, on my colleagues, and on me as well – I can feel it in my face: a bright hot planar expanse like misted sky or a perfectly smooth moon. Like a moon sifted through interstellar dust a million years until shiny and hard like a marble. That kind of moon in my face or on my face or between me and my face, a hard featureless peaceful moon unpeopled except for the voices carried through from above and below. Voices that say things like Implant Penetration Trade-Off Matrix and Project Management Metrics and Good Numbers This Quarter and Just Seeking Clarity and Agile Management Systems and Holistic Recontexualisation and We’ve Got Ourselves Into a Bit of a Sticky Wicket Here Eh Jones and the company slogan NO INTERNET BUT IN THINGS stencilled in 2-foot-high screaming block caps on the wall by the bathrooms. I walk past them without stopping.

I can hear manic chatter from the keyboards and the spiderish whisper of pens clicking, scratching, looping, dancing, dancing on their notepads. I can hear the warble of tea in mugs and a frantic Rubik’s Cube clucking on the PM’s desk. The wall calendar sounds a constant wail of alarm. Cabinets open and shut, shuffling archived folders like thin brown cymbals. I’ve reached the office entrance. The greeting of the coat rack is muffled under huddles of coats entwining, embracing, cuddling, giggling as I reach in to take mine. It’s navy blue, with the company’s logo – a pre-checked box – emblazoned on the lapel. What are you doing? asks my Implant. I’m going for a walk, I say. And I am.



The sky squats overhead, thick as a bell-jar. Microweaved Implants in the water droplets, I think. They give it an unnerving shimmer, like the sky above a desert. I’m leaving the office, heading into parkland. It’s barely 1 pm.

Going for a walk? ask the cars in the car park, one after the other. They wink at me with grated white eyes. I smile at them, then step off the tarmac and onto the grass. It giggles cheekily as I step on it.

So where you going? it asks, undulating glossy curves.

Just for a walk, I say, carefully lifting my foot.

Don’t stray too far, it says, voice slightly deeper now.

I won’t, I say. Don’t worry.

It watches me from its patch as I move on. The air starts to feel very dense as I approach the tree cover. The air whispers something at me, swirling temporarily into form.  More moisture means higher Implant concentration, I think, walking deeper into the greenery.

You’re not wrong, says the air.

Branches weave above me, the sinews of a brown monster. I can feel my Implant pulsing under my tongue. A shaved, wrathful thing, like a hard-boiled egg. I keep my eyes locked on the foliage ahead and start to count silently. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13. The best way to hide a thing from yourself is not to think it. 21, 34. Just don’t think about what you’re thinking about. Go on.

It’s the voice of my father again. Nice try, I think. 55. But I’m still not thinking it.

Thinking what? Asks my father.

Ha, I think. 89.

The greenery heaves ever so slightly, like an old mammal in the zoo. 144. Leaves twitch and contract as if sensing my passing. They whisper to each other like insects.

We used to go for walks here, me and your mother, says the voice of my father. 233. This can’t be true. I can smell pollen now. The air’s thick with it.

Your Implant Ratio’s rising, observes my father. You’re breathing it in. I find myself picturing how he would look, saying those words, eyebrows rising over his glasses. Irises like two low-beam flashlights.

I know Dad, I reply, and keep walking. His voice fades away as the whispers of the leaves get louder.

Aren’t we beautiful? murmur the trees as I approach. They are voiced by the Spice Girls. You are very beautiful, I acknowledge. 377. And they are. This whole place is beautiful.

Sunbeams fall through the leaves in thin yellow swords. Flowers bunch underfoot. Blossoms spread like crushed meringue. Wind flows gently through the trunks and whorls of fresh buds waltz in it, swapping the latest office gossip. Above, through gaps in the leaves, the blue fluctuates and rainbows, a huge soapy half-bubble in the sky. Wow, I think. My Implant Ratio must be pretty high right now. 610.

For a moment everything seems to stop. The trees and leaves and flowers look painted, and I can almost feel the edges of the air peeling along my skin like a scalpel, or a sculptor’s knife. I close my eyes for a second, then open them and move on. 987.




Can we stop now? Ask my feet. We’re tired.

That’s probably enough cardio for the day, don’t you think? Says my heart. Consider my risk of infarction adequately reduced.

You are not my heart, I reply. My heart laughs softly, in the voice of a cartoon queen. Foliage clusters around me. A patch of bark on a nearby tree hisses at me as I pass. Its face is scrunched and distorted.

I’m not sure you ought to be going this way, says a rose, clinging to my chinos with an outstretched thorn. Can’t we talk? The rose’s voice is soft and melodious. I think of Jules, toiling somewhere deep in the office. Glorious hair splashing all over a photocopier. Above me, sunlight continues to fall through the branches in disciplined streams.

Just peeking in to check on you, says the sun, in the gravelled voice of my grandfather. Everything alright? I never met my grandfather while he was alive.

Your Ratio’s getting a bit high, isn’t it? he muses, gently spreading warm gold streamers over the canopies of the trees. I have the sense of something striking at me from outside my observation, burying itself in the parts of my flesh my Implant can’t reach. I check my IR – it’s 90%, the highest I’ve ever been. Close, I suppose, to where my mother was. Is. Her Implants are all spread and mingled with the earth now, and with the air and sky and plant matter. Different pieces of her chattering to each other in the wind systems and oceanic tides. Reminiscing on the person they’d been and the life they’d shared as they fly up as evaporating droplets and fall back down in flurries of snow each winter.

I miss her too, says the sun. The tree tops seem to melt into guacamole cream. The parkland’s danger zone’s edge is visible now, shimmering in the strips between the trunks and branches.


I think that’s quite enough, says my tie, tightening. I quickly stick my fingers under my collar. No need to be dramatic, it says, as I take it off. Low brass notes rumble in my ears.

Pick him back up, says my shirt, so I take that off too.

You’ll get cold, warn my trousers as I pull them from my ankles.

They’ll think you’re crazy, say my underwear, falling crumpled on some bracken. I try to walk again but my trainers are stuck to the ground. I step out of them, and out of my socks for good measure. The sounds of the office seem to flow to me from a great distance, all the electrics woven into a single high note, like the ghost of a forbidden siren.

They’ll be looking for you, says my Implant. They’ll see how high our Ratio’s gotten.

I wonder what’s on the other side of this park, I think loudly, to no-one in particular.

Oh, just more greenbelts, more offices, more suburbs, say the clouds, in their booming dream-voices. You know that. Are we playing a game?

My lungs wheeze anxiously.

Always good to stretch the legs, I think, extra loudly. Got to get my ten thousand steps in every day. 1,597. 2,584.




I step out from under tree cover and into the clearing beyond. A fresh wave of pollen dusts my body. Bees fuzz the air. I can feel my IR peaking, like the shimmer of an oversalted tank. Flowers dot the grass, sighing at me through bursting anthers.

What are you up to now? They ask. Where are your clothes? I watch the bees descend on the flowers like gold-armoured mothballs, grunting and blurting with their wings.

Why not lie down, just for a second, say the flower petals, blushes of pink spreading on their snowy blossoms.

Just a bit further, I say. 4,181.

I can see the edge of the danger zone just ahead. It shivers, hot and thick with Implantation. It looks like one of the huge bubbles in the old Science Museum. A fully penetrated zone of 99+% concentrated Implantation, rubbing its axons together and shedding little bursts of static. It thrums like a giant invisible engine. It sounds like a bassoon quintet playing bass notes through a metal traffic cone.

Is this really necessary? asks the voice of my father. Only it’s not just his voice this time.

He’s standing right in front of me, right behind the edge. Mum’s there too. So’s Mr Murphy, my old primary school teacher. And Genia, my old piano teacher, holding hands with her other student Amy. There’s my old French teacher, who was rumoured to have been a pornstar, and Tiffany, a girl I thought I had a crush on. She’s pulling a plastic comb through the chestnut hair of the horse she always talked about having one day. Charlie Barrett is there too, baring his huge, jutting incisors, and next to him is Anthony with the clever, insect-like eyes. There’s Anthony’s posh mum, Victoria, and her tiny Canadian husband Denis, who was filthy rich. There’s Sam, popular Sam, who was always trying to make me to stop being friends with people. Dr Teichman is there, all hunched over, with knobbly hands and quick, high-pitched laughter. Everyone seems to be here. The boy who mugged me when I was eleven. The man who ran the old corner shop before it closed. The kid from school who froze to death on his gap year. My grandparents wave at me from the back of the crowd, faces beige and blurry. Even Jules is there, eyeing me curiously. And it’s not just people I know – there’s my grandfather’s father, a fuzzy shadow, gesturing indistinctly. More of my ancestors are lined up behind him, increasingly dark and featureless the further you go back. Shakespeare and Feynman are there too, loitering on the fringes, discussing something incredibly deep I assume. Ravel’s there also, doing little hand-exercises, exchanging nods and shrugs with my parents and teachers. They’ve all showed up to say bye, which is really nice. I feel moved.

Hold your horses buster, says Mr Murphy. We’ve booted the word ‘nice’ out of the classroom today. He really used to say that, if you said it.

You are quite talented! says Genia. Amy nods in agreement, waving her little green book.

I changed unreconcilable to irreconcilable – is that alright? That’s my old English teacher, Mr Venning. He’s absolutely enormous, spilling over his black swivel chair like a huge octopus, his voice the deepest in the whole crowd.

No worries, I say.

This essay, says his successor, Mr Landau. Was excellent. Why aren’t all of them like this?  I stare into the grass, which looks up at me with compassion.

It’s because you’re weak, says Sam, holding a Monopoly board.

Is everything okay at home? asks Genia.

Giveusyaphonegiveusyaphonegiveusyaphone, says the boy who mugged me. He has wide, beautiful eyes.

Why did you tell them that? asks Anthony, his eyes a little red. It’s not that small.

Sorry, I say.

I look at Jules, who’s looking at me without saying anything.

Who’s got fishy stinky breath. Eh? That’s Dad, sniffing. Who forgot to brush their teeth before going out?

It’s fine about the report, you know, says Jules, perfect hair fluttering in the wind. What matters is that you’re a great worker and we’d like to keep you on. My Implant crackles and hisses with static.

Please turn back, says Mum.

I miss you, I reply.

It’s not your time yet, says Mum. Go home. Everyone agrees. A white snake slithers through the grass on my side of the edge.

We want to help you, says Mum. Just tell us how. I’m always thinking of you.

We’re all always thinking of you, say the clouds and the sky. Just tell us what’s wrong. Don’t bottle it up. I feel wet jelly in my eyes, warm and dripping.

This is too much, say my warm dripping wet jelly eyes, voices cracking in stereo.

Too much, agree my hands, in their throaty male buzz.

Don’t you want to continue to see the light fall on the leaves of the trees? Says the light on the leaves of the trees.

Don’t you want to feel the breeze cool on your face? Says the cool breeze on my face.

Isn’t it marvellous just to live? Says the sky.

To love? Says the grass.

To feel? Says the sun.

It certainly is, I say.

Step away from the edge, says Dad.

Please, says Mum.

Back the fuck off, sir, says the edge, with glittering long lips. A cloud rumbles, winking thunder under serrated lids.

I just want some quiet, I say.