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‘The principle reason for the three-way handshake is to prevent old duplicate connection initiations from causing confusion’

This poem is concerned by a means to address you.
It is only about connecting. It is trying not to be Defensive.
It’s no longer 1981 and we are not on Wilson Boulevard
and we no longer have to try to be reliable. You can
find me now in inclement conditions, the kind that
we can only dream about in a baseless window. Still

I can’t tell you the order in which I’ll address you or from
what direction. In truth that is the means. We can only guess
at the window distance. It’s only open a moment. But in the involuntary event that I find you, talk over me. Send it back.

They wouldn’t breach the Cyclades, didn’t hear the cicadas
on either end of our address. They wanted to set our values crabwise in the north oak. Now I’m in an urgent mode closely waiting for you to ask for something I can help with. I want to accept everything from others and be a datagram without sleep.

This is not trying to be departmental. Maybe it’s makeshift.
A basis maybe to furnish any connection. It might help — for instance — to shape a fin from the half-open past. Time waiting
is a murmuration of broken hospitality, a pattern of speech.

And yet this means of address can’t help but arrive
in messages and envelopes. It arises like a consul
in its discretion and ceremony, and then a push, and
then a flood of one-way desire, which cannot be stopped.

AREF SEA 1122/3

‘Each host is directly connected to some particular network(s);
its connection to the Internet is only conceptual’

This concerns the four layers of message-carrying air which depend on each other like floors of a multiplex and, while
neither of us get it, you’re a message for now.

In the first layer, you’re mere frames and bits,
moving as part of an alphabet in a plan town, moving
over the other side of a room. You are already
trying to speak but find it’s unfair. Even
in bits you find you’re diluted, practiced in exits, quick
to the ground. In disclosure you’re alerted at length to
a handful of others.

In the second layer, your local address is aglow
in an ovate gold primitive. The windows of your room open.
This could be a grid-iron but it’s also the woods. For now
you’re available by air or on rails, you are visible as words. Intermediate eyes blink at you from a clock-driven
field. Rules say your kind heart should beat as finitely as a
state machine. Someone might be lapsing unasked in this
forest of configuration.

The third layer handles the substance of diplomacy,
and is as lively as it is null. Here you are driven like
buses and stirred like tea. Here we can start to talk
about talking. Without this one you’d be alone and lifeless, irrecoverably sole. Instead, it makes you sensitive to
a skip-gram of congestion, echoing, always thinking
the most recent your second-last instance, and always
responding in kind.

In the fourth and highest layer of air you’re ordered into
a head and sensory haul. This topmost part of your skin
feels anti-chronically risky, but it isn’t. Yes, it surprises
when held, influenced, passed, assigned, patched or touched.
But pushes like these only advance a more general havoc
downward and sideways, into warding off what’s not
the case, into a faulting and broadleaved peace which
imagines itself perennial.

There is, in fact, another layer, a still more physical one,
and one that no-one likes to talk about. I can’t tell
if you are in it or if it’s in you. And so far no-one can
ascertain if this other layer comes above the fourth or
as the zero.


‘The protocol is transaction oriented,
and delivery and duplicate protection
are not guaranteed’

It’s not that I’d notice but things are always
coming into question. There are always
rivers of searches that don’t match.
These strike us without friction in equal
temper. They strike up half a conversation
no matter what, and ride out of the city
with the chance of an unforced lifetime,
concentrated in a mediate point.

It’s not that I’d notice but around us
persuasions are queuing. Conditions
are drier, more wailing. Find a quiet location
in these error-prone surrounds. OK. Now
think of no more than eight words. Start,
say, with ‘may must part call pay lip win.’
Don’t be too lavish or slow — these words have
a long way to go in a lapwing economy.

And it’s not that I’d notice but some struck lines
are built on phosphor that strains to be
sensy. But let’s peer under the water.
In a motion-sensitive programme, is
tempo less or more crucial than truth?
How quickly can you get here? Cut short
and out of order when I encounter them,
I’ll guess at the octet of words that you thought.

Rowan McNaught is secretary of Darpa press.

Filed under Article Rowan McNaught
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