In the latest issue:

Boris Johnson’s First Year

Ferdinand Mount

Short Cuts: In the Bunker

Thomas Jones

Theban Power

James Romm

What can the WHO do?

James Meek

At the Type Archive

Alice Spawls

Where the Poor Lived

Alison Light

At the Movies: ‘Da 5 Bloods’

Michael Wood

Cultural Pillaging

Neal Ascherson

Jenny Offill

Adam Mars-Jones

Shakespeare v. the English

Michael Dobson

Poem: ‘Now Is the Cool of the Day’

Maureen N. McLane

Tativille

David Trotter

Consider the Hare

Katherine Rundell

How Should I Refer to You?

Amia Srinivasan

Poem: ‘Field Crickets (Gryllus campestris)’

Fiona Benson

Diary: In Mali

Rahmane Idrissa

Close
Close

Exalted on towers and posts and fitted with articulated necks
that tilt, cock and swivel like the necks of owls, silent and absolute.

Like owls, they have a zealous gaze that does not falter, through no matter
how long a night. Unlike owls they sometimes hunt in pairs or threes,

perched at the corner of a flat roof, protected in cages or bulletproof housing,
some with a mohican of spikes. Not gregarious – no, not that at all –

and for all their cutting-edge robotics, they are nothing without the database.
They are not gods but Recording Angels. They come not flaming, sheathed in light,

but just as dread: all actions witnessed at thirty frames per second,
compressed by algorithm, returned by co-ax cable.

Theirs is the platform and the underpass, the building site and the park gates,
the bridge, the bus stop, the school playground and the cash machine.

Theirs is the shop doorway where you hope for darkness to cover you;
theirs is the scar on your hand and the make of your watch and your eyes.

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