E-mediation: a collection of poems by Rebecca Robinson


I want to read it immediately,

but I must unblock my
ad-blocker first.

I want a response

but I must wait for you
to wake up in America first.

I want to see it

but I must watch the ads

I want to read it

but I must sign-up with
my e-mail and password,

as well as subscribe to
the newsletter first.

I want a response

but I must wait for you
to connect to the body of the internet,

and read it first.

I want to watch it

but I must let it buffer

And it is perhaps only in
this frustrating moment of buffering

that I find the space to
consider buffering

It is here that I find
the immediacy of social media,

to be E-mediation.

That I find this
buffering space,

to be a buffer.

An E-mediated cyber

rather than immediate

Fossil Fuelled Fossils

Once upon a time…

love made

the house a home.

Now plastic makes

the house a home.

Wooden planks – now vinyl

Mother-in-laws tongues –
faux plants.

Compost heaps – rubbish

Once upon a time…

archaeologists unearthed

bones and stones.

Future archaeologists

– shampoo bottles and
deodorant caps.

Now plastic makes

our house our home.


I fill the bath and burn
the candles for romantic relaxation,

you walk a few miles to
the communal drip to avoid death by dehydration.

I wear the 95% Cotton 5%
spandex to protect my dignity,

you expose your body to
the mechanic monster to provide a living.

I use deodorant to stop
the sweat,

you sweat to get the
deodorant in the shop.

I am unaware of the
Colombite Tantalite keeping my phone from overheating,

you know that Coltan
mining is heating up the Congo conflict.

I sit on the patio to
take a moment for my mental health,

you mow the lawn to
regulate my view.

I leave the yard lights
on at night to enhance security,

you struggle in the dark
of night against the weight of your asthmatic lungs.

I light a fire for my Heritage
day braai,

you scuttle and sliver
for your life amidst the veld fires and tree fellers.

I take a selfie on a blue
flag beach,

you take apart the
shipment of electronic waste on your shores.

I drive to the shops to
pick up gas for my heater,

you sit shivering and
oil-dead-fishing in the Niger delta.

I just wore my first
surgical mask because global pandemic,

you’ve been wearing one
for years because global consumer pandemonium.

I had to do research on
the internet to type this poem,

you know the dark shadow
of these things because you live them.


We couldn’t gather at the
office, the church, or the coffeeshop anymore –

so we

We connected,

but this connection was



nected from

our prior connections.

We zoomed into this
disconnection and found

its connection to be

disconnected from

shared air, shared temperature,
shared vibrations, shared immediacy, shared embodiment.

We took the sharing for

We didn’t recognize it.

We zoomed past

until we zoomed in.

[Me]  n|u|E The Lemon Tree

Most days I put on

[my]– clothes, wash my
face, put in my contacts, put on face cream, brush my teeth,

and sit at my

n – desk

to work on my laptop.

I log into

my email –

and start my googling
reading typing day.

Sometimes I log out and
look out the

|– window.

My first floor apartment
sits on top of

a whole other


of concrete, windows,
wires and wifi.

So when I look outside

 the glass | window,

down on the

U – ground floor

there is a small patch of
grass before the

| – wall.

Atop the concrete wall is

E– electric fence with
five live wires,

and behind that grid is

the lemon tree.

I have been watching the
lemon tree all year and considering its tenacity.

I’ve become so accustomed
to apartment living that the apartmentalism has become unapparent.

But the truth is that I
actually don’t

look right at the lemon

but rather,

@ n|u|E the lemon tree

from behind my:

[]– contacts,
– laptop screen,

n– desk,

|– window,

U– first floor and grass

|– wall, and

E– electric fence.

About Rebecca and her work:

Human exploitation of fossil fuels and the resultant accelerated development of, and reliance on, technologies have introduced the advent of the Anthropocene and petromodernity. Many middle and upper-class individuals take for granted, and thus remain ignorant, of both their oil-soaked reality and its harmful effects on their working-class counterparts. My own petromodern reality is mediated by electricity and technology, and although this technology is immediately present in my everyday life, I often fail to recognize the fossil-fuelled mediation of my middle-class reality. This ignorance is partly a result of a larger cultural failure to produce creative narratives and imaginaries to capture the texture of the everyday reality of petromodernity and the Anthropocene. I have written this collection of poems titled “E-mediation” to attempt to give texture to this reality based on my own embodied experiences as a middle-class oil subject.

Rebecca Robinson is an English Honours
student at Stellenbosch University. During her undergraduate and post-graduate
studies in the English Department, she has been inspired and encouraged to
write poetry to compliment her academic exploits. She wrote and submitted her
first collection of poetry as part of one of her final essays in a third-year
seminar about poetry, and one of those poems was published in a South African
literary journal. Similarly, she submitted this collection of poems as part of
a final essay for one of her Honours modules about environmental politics. Her inspiration
to write her own poetry was born out of her studies in the English Department,
but has now overflowed into a developing practice of writing poetry in a
non-academic capacity. She plans to continue to develop and pursue such writing
as she considers whether to continue with her studies or take a break from
formal academia.

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