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Alan dreams 256 shades of green, hibernating
in his glass docking pod at the bottom of the garden.
Self-starting at sunrise, his solar panels slowly energise.
Recharged and updated with new kinds of seed,
66 brands of feed and non-toxic weed killers
plus the latest on invasive alien species.

Alan zips up his latex happy face
(with questioning eyebrows and a real pipe)
and his T-shirt declares ‘I love life’ (in bold font) for the Master.
After the BBC weather forecast, he initiates maintenance checks,
self-lubricates his cylinder, sharpens blades, tops up levels.
His friend, the virtual robin observes from a perch by the electric fence.

Alan has the same old routine every day,
downloading music while he works
(Tom Jones, The Green Green Grass of Home on repeat).
Perfect, straight lines along the wire perimeter,
perfect stripes overlapping by a centimetre, working left to right,
raking, aerating, weeding, feeding as he goes,

making perfect crisp edges around the lily pond.
Sometimes he hopes for showers so he can count
raindrops falling into the water, watch his reflection crumble,
ripple into concentric circles.  Chaotic patterns
stir the surface calm, bubbles rise from the carp beneath,
flickering gold in the shadows.


Lydia Popowich is a writer and artist based in the Far North of Scotland.  Her work has been published in anthologies and magazines including Northwords Now, Dream Catcher, Obsessed with Pipework and The Dalesman.

“This poem was written in response to a prompt from Suzannah Evans on Surviving the Future.  It was a fun poem to write but also made me think about what makes us human and  how strange it is that we seem to become emotionally attached to machines.  I would so love to have an Alan in my garden!”


  • Ms Muse

    Love this poem! Alan sounds just like a robot – certainly not a human being with feelings. He is just like a robot-man, almost as though someone winds him up at the start of the day by clockwork and then lets him do his thing! But it’s more than clockwork… as clockwork winds down at some point…. no Alan is powered by something more sinister than clockwork…. cynicism, boredom… he is dead inside…. he has almost lost the will to live in such a boring, desolate and conformist role…..but luckily hope appears in the last verse to keep him going….. the rains come and save him from drowning in the awful nonentity which is routine, the everyday, the expected….. he MAY not finish the mowing but wow…. what does he reap instead? LIFE in all its wonderful guises, imagination, his own self becoming something completely different to what it is…. so many possibilities are open to him……he just has to have the courage to go into the Great Unknown to grab the “flickering gold in the shadows”…… great poem! Yes…. the mowing can wait…… bring on the rain, adversity….see just what mankind is capable of, made of…..

  • Lydia Popowich

    Hi Ms Muse,
    Thanks for such thoughtful feedback…really pleased you enjoyed the poem!

  • Ms Muse

    I thought it was a great poem and just hope that my spiel was not TOO FAR from what you meant in writing it….. that’s what’s so interesting in poetry… each and every one of us can see varying “meanings” in a piece of writing and I guess that is why poetry can be so enriching both to write and to read…….. happy writing!

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Image credit: Jacquelyn Orenza