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death compassed

August 2, 2011

shall I condemn
don’t wanna live in
no question
more intensely
may sometimes even
I become
hear others
death and
knocking at night
my prayer
front door

but I remained
don’t wanna live either
no virtue
more spiritual and sometimes
this I die
hear footsteps
death compassed
at prayer
my excess front

then I
wanna live that
no longer
more light
I remained
hear what death and
knocking at
my weak front


July 31, 2011, Method 155abe85-6ad8-4f99-b429-716d21610a6b (expanding a seed text consistent with a language model.) Seed text from “Everyday Struggle” by Biggie Smalls; expansion corpus: St John of the Cross “Dark Night of the Soul” (Proj. Gutenberg translation); generator: ePoGeeS.

The other day I talked to an esteemed digital humanist who told me in passing that her creative works didn’t have anything to do with her personal inner emotions. (I am probably misquoting.) Naturally, this threw me into a crisis. Even when I interactively generate something rapidly and without much intentional thought, it still seems to reflect my thoughts and emotions at the time. Am I some kind of annoying person who expects others to care about their emotions? But sometimes generating poetry helps me get past the waves of negative emotion that crash over me and make it so difficult to interact with others or to get work done.

So poems like the one above are nothing more than personal explorations that help me figure out and deal with my own problems. They are like plant and animal matter that has been chewed, broken down, digested, and excreted, with nothing nutritional left over. My poems are shit: disgusting and unhealthful, but possibly medically informative, and potentially useful as fertilizer.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2011 6:28 pm

    The “healthiest” poems are definitely not the best. Fear, despair, anguish, doubt, are all part of the human condition. We live in weird and frightful times, and the question that we must pose to ourselves is: are our poems weird enough to describe those times? And “shit” is a good foundation to describe a lot of it. So for me a lot of shit turns out to be useful.. There is always a larger arena of shit playing itself out on various scales at any given time. And focusing on other shit rather than my own is therapeutic to that end. Not that you shouldn’t write your own shit. Anyway, I wouldn’t yell at the pets if I found your poem on my bed, or something so the analogy breaks down at some point. Unhealthy, possibly; but not unsanitary. I often ask myself if my poems are “too depressing” and I’ve come to realize that nothing can be too depressing. Just think of all the great works of literature, and how depressing they are. Their authors were all thinking, “can I depress people enough?”, “will my depression-causing strategies be effective enough?” And so literature has a proud tradition of depressing the shit out of people.

    • August 7, 2011 3:17 am

      I wouldn’t yell at the pets if I found your poem on my bed

      That is awesome. My new criteria for the success of a poem: would I be upset if my pet coughed it up in my bed?

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