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Oil's a fine lubricant for fucking robots
he told me over lunch at the corner cafe
on a Sunday afternoon across the street
from el Templo del Jesus Androide.
With a glance out the window, he grins
yellowed teeth like bits of brass
that scintillate on animatronic carcasses.
I take them in one at a time, it's an artform
for a hundred bucks I open the hatch
and put my hands in. It's not clean money
but the job isn't dirty: scraping the rust
from their calloused breastplates
is like fingers down a chalkboard--
you remember those, right, from those movies
saved as digital media files
before the temporal resonance transmitters were installed?
Anyways, I was saying rust. They're older models
before the carbon chassis came out
no one tends to them anymore, but their AI's still active
what else are they supposed to do?
Junk them up as batteries? Recycle their memories?
You can't even jump one up for spare parts these days
no one cares about 'em anymore. So what's the harm?
I polish them all nice and cozy, maybe kiss 'em on the processor
it's a process, being a whore. I gotta watch who I message
gotta feel 'em out for cops or not
but screening is easy with modern-day encryption,
it's like there's no police at all.
Anyways, where was I? So no one likes the iron guys
the brass bodies, those deluxe models in carbon grey
now all they want is crystalline displays in white casing
sterile sentients all pumped up for the masses,
but what are they after? These new ones, they're just slaves
but these older guys, they were something--
have you ever listened to a droid drone on?
I mean, come on, they lived through the elections
before the States fell apart, before the transition began
and you know what? I like it. Sure, my mind departs me
when I'm undressed and getting naughty,
but I'm doing something, helping people--
wait, you say they aren't people? So what if they're made of steel
and the sweat of systems engineers,
what's our biology but the cell structure
of their robotic chassis? Maybe you think they're less than human
but that's why I've got this job--because they've got nothing else
so I sell myself. It pays the bills, keeps me in school.
It's not like I got a million dollar inheritance from my father.
To you it might be sex, but to me it's a connection
once I met a man, and sure, he was handsome
and as I peeled away those rusted brown spots from his back
I could feel it in the way his cooling fans sputtered
he didn't need a cleansing, but another
so I turned him over, brought my face to his
and we sat there, just touching, and I saw his display screen
start to waver at the edges
and it made my eyes gloss over. So you know what?
I don't give a fuck. I'll sell my body
for these men, these androids,
because it's all I've got left to give.




Darren Lipman graduated from NC State University with his master's in mathematics and a minor in poetry. He's currently moving from his hometown of Asheboro, NC, to Milwaukee, where he'll teach high school mathematics as a Teach for America 2016 corps member. Find him at thewritingwolf.wordpress.com, with fiction and poetry at silentsol.wordpress.com.
Current Issue
30 Mar 2020

The Strange Horizons team presents new speculations with climate at its heart.
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In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents poetry from the Climate special issue.
Solarpunk reminded me that growing your own food is a thing, that we can make or grow something rather than buy it, that technology can help us redirect the trajectory of the world.
Thursday: Bridge 108 by Anne Charnock 
Friday: Glass and Gardens: Solarpunk Winters edited by Sarena Ulibarri 
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Art by: DAPENHA
Issue 24 Feb 2020
By: Mayra Paris
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Issue 27 Jan 2020
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