Shanghai’s Robo Dogs

With quick unnatural steps, and side to side
Focusing glances, robo dogs preside
And prowl the streets. They wear their growls in little
Speakers around their necks, their barking spittle
A blare of words: Go home, home now, now go.
They click, record, and scurry to and fro
On double-jointed limbs, metallic bones.
They’re quickly joined by dark and hovering drones
That troll the high-rise skies and reprimand
The nighttime cries for food. The drones demand
“Control your soul’s desire for freedom! Do
Not open windows! Do not sing!”  Who knew
That hunger’s aria was humming just
Outside so many balconies, a gust
Of air that makes the starved bird scream, or sing,
As soon as darkness hides the face and wing.



Maura H. Harrison is a poetry student in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at the University of St. Thomas. She lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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7 Responses

  1. Paul Freeman

    The shape of things to come – and already here!

    A chilling poem.

    Thanks for the read, Maura.

  2. Theresa Dould Cummings

    Terrific, another nightmare realized.
    A truly masterful work of poetry. Thank you.

  3. Jeff Eardley

    Maura, an absolutely terrifying nightmare of the future. I have seen the scary video. Thank you for a real bone-chiller of a poem.

  4. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Maura, you have captured (in creepy, vivid imagery) the draconian influence that threatens our freedom, and you’ve done it admirably within a poem that the world should hear. Thank you!

  5. Margaret Coats

    Splendid poem on Shanghai at present, with allusions to the tradition of “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar and “Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou. Top-notch couplets and an effective reading of them. The black poets’ contrast of caged and free birds is taken to another level of horror by the prohibition of singing. The Shanghai silence is worse than the American singing, and indeed worse than the Auschwitz starvation bunker, where Nazi guards paid no attention to what prisoners were doing as they died deprived of food.


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