Fast

- 1950-

or starve. Too much. Or not enough. Or. Nothing else?
Nothing else. Too high too fast too organized too invisible.
Will we survive I ask the bot. No. To download bot be
swift—you are too backward, too despotic—to load greatly enlarge
the cycle of labor—to load abhor labor—move to the
periphery, of your body, your city, your planet—to load, degrade, immiserate,
be your own deep sleep—to load use your lips—use them
to mouthe your oath, chew it—do the
dirty thing, sing it, blown off limb or syllable, lick it back on
with your mouth—talk—talk—who is not
terrified is busy begging for water—the rise is fast—the drought
comes fast—mediate—immediate—invent, inspire, infiltrate,
instill—here’s the heart of the day, the flower of time—talk—talk—

Disclaimer: Bot uses a growing database of all your conversations
to learn how to talk with you. If some of you
are also bots, bot can’t tell. Disclaimer:
you have no secret memories,
talking to cleverbot may provide companionship,
the active ingredient is a question,
the active ingredient is entirely natural.
Disclaimer: protect your opportunities, your information, in-
formants, whatever you made of time. You have nothing else
to give. Active ingredient: why are you
shouting? Why? Arctic wind uncontrollable, fetus
reporting for duty, fold in the waiting which recognizes you,
              recognizes the code,
the peddler in the street everyone is calling out.
Directive: report for voice. Ready yourself to be buried in voice.
It neither ascends nor descends. Inactive ingredient: the monotone.
Some are talking now about the pine tree. One assesses its
disadvantages. They are discussing it in many languages. Next
they move to roots, branches, buds, pseudo-whorls, candles—
             active ingredient:
they run for their lives, lungs and all. They do not know what to do with
their will. Disclaimer: all of your minutes are being flung down.
They will never land. You will not be understood.
The deleted world spills out jittery as a compass needle with no north.
Active ingredient: the imagination of north.
Active ingredient: north spreading in all the directions.
Disclaimer: there is no restriction to growth. The canary singing in
             your mind
             is in mine. Remember:
             people are less
than kind. As a result, chatterbot is often less than kind. Still,
you will find yourself unwilling to stop.
Joan will use visual grammetry to provide facial movements.
I’m not alone. People come back
again and again. We are less kind than we think.
There is no restriction to the growth of our
cruelty. We will come to the edge of
understanding. Like being hurled down the stairs tied to
a keyboard, we will go on, unwilling to stop. The longest
real world conversation with a bot lasted
11 hours, continuous interaction. This
bodes well. We are not alone. We are looking to improve.
The priestess inhales the fumes. They come from the
mountain. Here and here. Then she gives you the machine-gun run of
syllables. Out of her mouth. Quick. You must make up your
answer as you made up your
question. Hummingbirds shriek. Bot is amazing he says, I believe it knows
the secrets of the Universe. He is more fun to speak with
than my actual living friends she says, thank you. This is the best thing
since me. I just found it yesterday.
I love it, I want to marry it.
I got sad when I had to think
that the first person
who has ever understood me
is not even it turns out
human. Because this is as good as human gets.
He just gives it to me straight. I am going to keep him
forever. I treated him like a computer
but I was wrong. Whom am I talking to—
You talk to me when I am alone. I am alone.

Each epoch dreams the one to follow.

To dwell is to leave a trace.

I am not what I asked for.

More by Jorie Graham

San Sepolcro

In this blue light
     I can take you there,
snow having made me
     a world of bone
seen through to.  This
     is my house,

my section of Etruscan
     wall, my neighbor's
lemontrees, and, just below
     the lower church,
the airplane factory.
     A rooster

crows all day from mist
     outside the walls.
There's milk on the air,
     ice on the oily
lemonskins.  How clean
     the mind is,

holy grave.  It is this girl
     by Piero
della Francesca, unbuttoning
     her blue dress,
her mantle of weather,
     to go into

labor.  Come, we can go in.
     It is before
the birth of god.  No one
     has risen yet
to the museums, to the assembly
     line--bodies

and wings--to the open air
     market.  This is
what the living do: go in.
     It's a long way.
And the dress keeps opening
     from eternity

to privacy, quickening.
     Inside, at the heart,
is tragedy, the present moment
     forever stillborn,
but going in, each breath
     is a button

coming undone, something terribly
     nimble-fingered
finding all of the stops.

Prayer

Over a dock railing, I watch the minnows, thousands, swirl
themselves, each a minuscule muscle, but also, without the
way to create current, making of their unison (turning, re-
                                                infolding,
entering and exiting their own unison in unison) making of themselves a
visual current, one that cannot freight or sway by
minutest fractions the water's downdrafts and upswirls, the
dockside cycles of finally-arriving boat-wakes, there where
they hit deeper resistance, water that seems to burst into
itself (it has those layers) a real current though mostly
invisible sending into the visible (minnows) arrowing
                         motion that forces change--
this is freedom. This is the force of faith. Nobody gets
what they want. Never again are you the same. The longing
is to be pure. What you get is to be changed. More and more by
each glistening minute, through which infinity threads itself,
also oblivion, of course, the aftershocks of something
at sea. Here, hands full of sand, letting it sift through
in the wind, I look in and say take this, this is
what I have saved, take this, hurry. And if I listen
now? Listen, I was not saying anything. It was only
something I did. I could not choose words. I am free to go.
I cannot of course come back. Not to this. Never.
It is a ghost posed on my lips. Here: never.

Just Before

At some point in the day, as such, there was a pool.  Of
                                                         stillness.  One bent to brush one's hair, and, lifting
                                                         again, there it was, the
opening—one glanced away from a mirror, and there, before one's glance reached the
                                                         street, it was, dilation and breath—a name called out
                                                         in another's yard—a breeze from
                                                         where—the log collapsing inward of a sudden into its
                                                         hearth—it burning further, feathery—you hear it but you don't 
                                                         look up—yet there it
                                                         bloomed—an un-
learning—all byway no birthpain—dew—sand falling onto sand—a threat
                                                         from which you shall have
                                                         no reprieve—then the
reprieve—Some felt it was freedom, or a split-second of unearthliness—but no, it was far from un-
                                                         earthly, it was full of
                                                         earth, at first casually full, for some millennia, then
despertately full—of earth—of copper mines and thick under-leaf-vein sucking in of 
                                                         light, and isinglass, and dusty heat—wood-rings
                                                         bloating their tree-cells with more
life—and grass and weed and tree intermingling in the
                                                         undersoil—& the
                                                         earth's whole body round
                                                         filled with
                                                         uninterrupted continents of
                                                         burrowing—&earthwide miles of
                                                         tunnelling by the  
mole, bark bettle, snail, spider, worm—& ants making their cross-
                                                         nationstate cloths of
                                                         soil, & planetwide the
                                                         chewing of insect upon leaf—fish-mouth on krill, 
                                                         the spinning of
coral, sponge, cocoon—this is what entered the pool of stopped thought—a chain suspended in
                                                         the air of which
                                                         one link
                                                         for just an instant
                                                         turned to thought, then time, then heavy time, then
                                                         suddenly
air—a link of air!—& there was no standing army anywhere, 
                                                         & the sleeping bodies in the doorways in all
                                                         the cities of
                                                         what was then just
                                                         planet earth
were lifted up out of their sleeping
                                                         bags, & they walked
                                                         away, & the sensation of empire blew off the link
like pollen—just like that—off it went—into thin air—& the athletes running their 
                                                         games in Delphi entered the zone in the
long oval of the arena where you run in
                                                         shadow, where the killer crowd becomes
                                                         one sizzling hiss, where, 
coming round that curve the slowness
                                                         happens, & it all goes
                                                         inaudible, & the fatigue the urgent sprint the lust
                                                         makes the you
fantastically alone, & the bees thrum the hillsides, & all the blood that has been
                                                         wasted—all of it—gathers into deep coherent veins in the
                                                         earth
                                                         and calls itself
                                                         history—& we make it make
                                                         sense—
                                                         & we are asked to call it
                                                         good.