Installment 14, Drew Milne’s “Defeat Devices,” takes up the EPA term for devices installed by Volkswagen and other car manufacturers to disguise the levels of real world emissions produced by their vehicles. Software recognizes lab conditions and changes the fuel regulation to suit, but once back on the road, the NOx and particulates emissions spike and far exceed regulation levels. Milne renders concrete those deadly remains that many prefer to keep out of sight and mind.



there in the software
lies a tiger in the tank
a cat called catalytics
pumping particulates

he takes a breather
when he’s in the lab
but breathes bright fire
into the known health

acoustic conditioning
trips out test emissions
but on the dirt tracks
he lights forest nights

millions and millions
and millions of cats
three way convertors
all nox and noxious

and said tigers kill
just as we kill tigers
and all the metaphors
the fossils of diesel


Drew Milne was born in 1964 and grew up in Scotland. He lives and works in Cambridge with his wife, Redell Olsen, and two children. In 1995 he was Writer in Residence at the Tate Gallery, London. His books of poetry include Sheet Mettle (1994), Bench Marks (1998), The Damage (2001), Mars Disarmed (2001), and Go Figure (2003), and, with John Kinsella, Reactor Red Shoes (2013). His collected poems, entitled ‘In Darkest Capital’ were published by Carcanet in 2017. He edited Marxist Literary Theory (1996), with Terry Eagleton, and Modern Critical Thought (2003). Since 1997 he’s been the Judith E Wilson Lecturer in Drama & Poetry, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge.