For your safety and security
your reaction to these poems will be monitored.
Each page is reader sensitive
using state of the art technology.
The words will flash red
if they cause your blood pressure to rise
to a dangerous level.
Amber if they detect you need an eye test.
Blue if they spot ADD.
Green if for any reason you are pining and need professional help.
Purple if you light a cigarette
or drink a second cup of coffee.
Black if they leave you feeling suicidal.
Grey if you’ve got bad breath.
If yellow, please tear out the page
and take it to your doctor.
She/he will know what to do.
Other colours are explained in footnotes
to particular high-risk poems.
If you fall asleep
the poems will bleep
but only to remind you to lie down properly
if you want to avoid a cricked neck.
If you shout or weep
a pop-up questionnaire
will check if it is anything to do with the text
and provide contact details for local counsellors.
We are required by law to inform you
that our central computer
keeps a record of all such activity.
You can be assured that confidentiality will be strictly maintained.
We will use the information only for statistical purposes
once we’ve worked out what they are.
These poems also come with a health warning.
If you are reading these poems
indeed if you read any poetry at all
you are a member of a dying breed.
First published in Snakeskin 235, December 2016