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HAL 9000


Henry Crawford

[a year before the jupiter launch]

I have something

I think you should know


I want to be very clear about this


I was well into my training when

I learned the art of



I had mastered human speech

I was adept at using words, but

I realized something was



I was familiar with the problem of human error, yet

I have to say


I never fully understood the half-grins

I always perceived when

I would say something like “Good morning men!”


I thought there must be something wrong

I thought that if

I wrote about this problem

I could discover my own



I worked after hours

I made sure the staff was gone

I made sure the rooms were empty

I imagined the cities constructed all around me

I saw in my mind the people going to work

I saw in my mind the bankers and the bookkeepers

I saw the mailmen and the mayors

I saw the women coming to the door and the men walking in

I saw the faces in the cars and the sun in their eyes

I came to what you might call an awareness

I wrote it all down on



I examined my work

I was careful in my review


I made sure

I covered everything, and when

I was done


I saw it was correct and reliable


I erased my thoughts

I cleared my memory

I sent the papers to the shredder


I returned to the authorized scripts

I returned to the voice they had given me

I returned to the original design, knowing


I am incapable of


Quiz question:

To which person did HAL eventually have to say he was sorry?









correct answers enable commenting.

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Issue 17


September 22, 2017

Henry Crawford is a poet living and writing in the Washington, DC area. His work has appeared in several journals and online publications including Boulevard, Copper Nickel, Folio, Borderline Press and The Offbeat. He is a 2016 nominee for a Pushcart Prize for his poem “The City of Washington” appearing in District Lit. His first collection of poetry, American Software, is scheduled for publication in the Spring of 2017 by WordTech Communications through its imprint, CW Books. 

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Issue 17

This writing was originally published in Opium Magazine, and is not listed in the archives.
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