“Driverless” by José A. Alcántara

José A. Alcántara


At six seconds,
you are an unknown object,
a lamppost or a linden.

You are a problem to be solved.

At four-and-a-half seconds,
you are a vehicle,
a rickshaw, a go-kart, a horse-and-buggy.

You are a stream of interpretable data.

At three seconds,
you are a bicycle,
a ten-speed, a fat-tired cruiser.

You move according to well-researched algorithms.

At one-point-three seconds,
you are a person
walking across the street.

You are a cause for alarm.

At time zero,
you are a dent in the fender,
a stain on the road.

You are a dip in company stock.

from Poets Respond


José A. Alcántara: “This week, the report was made public that described the accident in which a woman in Arizona was struck and killed by one of Uber’s self-driving cars. I was intrigued by the speed with which the identity of the woman morphed from inanimate object, through a couple of animated identities, and then back to inanimate object.”

Rattle Logo