an interrogation of the OED entry
Poetry from NER 42.3 (2021)
1a. If an agent is a person who or thing which acts upon someone or something, then could the agent serve as a welcome: a hand, a house, a door to a room with a bed and running water? If an agent is one who or that which exerts power, the doer of an action, then could the agent release the detainees? Could the agent take a baseball bat to the surveillance camera? Does the agent have agency?
1b. If an agent is a person or thing that operates in a particular direction, or produces a specified effect, then could an agent serve as a boat, a ride, a guide from one country to another?
1c. If an agent is the doer of an action, typically expressed as the subject of an active verb or in a by-phrase with a passive verb, then could I erase the agent by writing, “A boy walking in the desert,” instead of what is printed in the newspaper, “A boy walking in the desert is apprehended by CBP agent”?
1d. If an agent is, as in telepathy, the person who originates an impression (opposed to the percipient who receives it), then can I fly a small drone to the other side of this life? Can I leave my body in the room that maneuvers the controller? Can I return to my dead family, though they are not buried in one singular land?
2. If an agent is a person acting on behalf of another, can I hire a personal agent to talk to this CBP agent and tell him he should wave all these cars through this checkpoint?
2a. If an agent is a person who acts as a substitute for another, one who undertakes negotiations or transactions on behalf of a superior, employer, or principal; a deputy, steward, representative, then can I please speak to your supervisor? And by supervisor, I mean the President of the United States.
2b. If an agent is a person or company that provides a particular service, typically one that involves arranging transactions between two other parties, then what is the difference between the agent and the trafficker? Los dos venderían a su propia madre.
2c. If an agent is an official appointed to represent the government in dealing with an American Indian people, then why must the Bureau of Indian Affairs continue to capture CCTV of all Indigenous American peoples?
2d. If an agent is a person who works secretly to obtain information for a government or other official body, a spy, then can one be an agent without also being a peeping tom, a voyeur, a perverse man behind a screen in a concrete room in a city faraway?
2e. If an agent is a person who negotiates and manages business, financial, publicity, or contractual matters for an actor, performer, writer, etc., then as a poet could I hire an agent to make a contract with my body to return me to who I was before I ran my car off the road during a panic attack from which I never fully recovered?
2f. If an agent is a stagecoach robber, then can I rally a group of like-minded bandits to stone the drone, demolish the surveillance tower, shoot the satellite to tear down the virtual border wall?
3. If an agent is the means by which something is done, the material cause or instrument through which an effect is produced, then can the agent unfurl their tongue to speak of the horrors they work to create at the bridge, the interrogation room, the transport bus, the detention center?
4. If an agent is a substance that brings about a chemical or physical effect of causes, a chemical reaction, then the CBP agent corrodes the border as hydrogen peroxide corrodes a metal pipe.
5. If an agent is a program that (autonomously) performs a task such as information retrieval or processing on behalf of a client or user, then may all agents show generous agency—a hot meal, a gallon of water, a child never taken to a van on a day that reads 104 degrees.