The poem is about Boey KIm Cheng's response to and assessment of city planners, architects and designers and their way of doing their jobs. He brings out how these individuals plan perfectly every building and make great use of space and how society is blinded by this particular perfect order. He insists however on the fact that his identity as a poet is not "programmed" contrary to the various urban designs.
Cheng comes from Singapore and Singapore is well known for its tall buildings and good use of space available; architects have designed the various buildings with one main aim which is to have the maximum place available for the growing population. The growth of the cities take place at any cost:
"they build and will not stop
even the sea draws back
and the skies surrender"
natural resources are paying the costs of the expanding cities. Compared to Atwood who believes nature will strike again, Cheng insists on the opposite: nature may nto come back because of the continuous growing up and out of cities.
Nature is not the only one paying for the consequences of the frenzy behaviours of planners, history as a whole is also being destroyed. "They erase every flaws" The planners have decided that what has been achieved in the past is not appropriate and to some extents not perfect enough.
The dental image of neatness and flawlessness is also associated with mathematical metaphor. these two features give more importance to how every building is well studied before constructed and how they turn out to be as perfect as expected. "all spaces are gridded" shows how these same grids can be used in several different ways or how they could be placed and managed in different arrangements. The buildings are in alignment meeting at desired points it seems too perfect and Cheng becomes ironic describing mathematics as graceful "in the grace of mathematics"
In the last part of the poem there is a cry of rebellion on the part of the poet. His poem cannot be...