Seeking Feedback on an Algorithmic Poem

I’m working on a presentation and would welcome some help. I wrote a poem, and am well aware that it’s a bad poem in any number of ways. I’m OK with that.

Here’s the help I would like: please look for a single line that interests you. It can be a line that’s terrible, a line that you like, a line that does something you find engaging or stupid or funny or terrible or exciting in whatever way.

Find all the stanzas in which that line occurs. In comments, enumerate the stanzas in which the line occurs. (For example: I, II, IV.)

Don’t tell me what the line is: I’ll actually tell you what the line is in response to your comment. (Yes, in this way, I’m asking you to help me perform an online parlor trick, with a poem.)

I’ll tell you more about this once I figure out if it works, but here’s the short version: poems can be computers. Help me out? Poem follows.

I.

Dead alphabets — stony, mute, uncooperative —

disambiguate, cooking down all that lies between binary poles to their crystalline communicabilities.

Meanings missed, mistransmitted, petals from a wet black bough

count and sum the wayward syllables of these lines and stanzas.

Brautigan’s machines of loving grace, watching over us, stitching javascript to databases

remember our handwriting like other hands.

Ambiguous tactile manipulations

turn meaning into matter, rather than that opposite progression, in their practices of display:

Marks and metrics, principles of passing moments;

iterations of machines compiling their own code, their keys hand-punched, material devices made from sets of syllables.

Stanzas serving as cogs in a text, cogs no more than an example of scansion’s digital calculus: robots

wind metonymically through their serial turns and transformations and displacements, edging aside meaning:

Are we not weary of ardent ways?

These irregular abstractions

turn and ratchet, syllable by syllable in their incremental spondees and trochees, until there is no last enjambment

to start again, cycle the switch and so reorder the order, switching the cycle: as one, the blank screens

II.

sing, Frederick Winslow Taylor’s automated rhapsodes, and singing turn us toward

marks and metrics, principles of passing moments.

Stanzas serving as cogs in a text, cogs no more than an example of scansion’s digital calculus: robots

disambiguate, cooking down all that lies between binary poles to their crystalline communicabilities.

Our minds, intelligences,

count, and count again; count, and count again; sum, carry, and decrement the counter to zero:

meanings missed, mistransmitted, petals from a wet black bough.

Memories of the TRS-80, Commodore 64, Atari 800,

iterations of machines compiling their own code, their keys hand-punched, material devices made from sets of syllables

neither scan nor rhyme.

Dead alphabets — stony, mute, uncooperative —

scripts that call to mind the surge of memory, the accumulative weights of words

count and sum the wayward syllables of these lines and stanzas.

These bits, these beats

turn and ratchet, syllable by syllable in their incremental spondees and trochees, until there is no last enjambment

to end before ending.

III.

Brautigan’s machines of loving grace, watching over us, stitching javascript to databases

count, and count again; count, and count again; sum, carry, and decrement the counter to zero;

mark and meter, divide and quantize, asking how much in each at given lengths.

Memories of the TRS-80, Commodore 64, Atari 800

sing, Frederick Winslow Taylor’s automated rhapsodes, and singing turn us toward

stanzas serving as cogs in a text, cogs no more than an example of scansion’s digital calculus: robots

surge and crash, pushing upward, rise and recede in flowing urge and ebb.

Groups of beings: poems, readers, teachers, scholars — all counters, computers

turn meaning into matter, rather than that opposite progression, in their practices of display.

Scripts that call to mind the surge of memory — the accumulative weights of words —

disambiguate, cooking down all that lies between binary poles to their crystalline communicabilities.

Iterations of machines compiling their own code, their keys hand-punched, material devices made from sets of syllables

wind metonymically through their serial turns and transformations and displacements, edging aside meaning.

These circuitous and reflexive ideas without referents

turn and ratchet, syllable by syllable in their incremental spondees and trochees, until there is no last enjambment

to start again, cycle the switch and so reorder the order, switching the cycle: as one, the blank screens

IV.

remember our handwriting like other hands.

Groups of beings: poems, readers, teachers, scholars — all counters, computers,

memories of the TRS-80, Commodore 64, Atari 800 —

count and sum the wayward syllables of these lines and stanzas

and demand

our minds, intelligences

to start again, cycle the switch and so reorder the order, switching the cycle: as one, the blank screens

count, and count again; count, and count again; sum, carry, and decrement the counter to zero.

Meanings missed, mistransmitted, petals from a wet black bough

mark and meter, divide and quantize, asking how much in each at given lengths.

Iterations of machines compiling their own code, their keys hand-punched, material devices made from sets of syllables,

ambiguous tactile manipulations,

wind metonymically through their serial turns and transformations and displacements, edging aside meaning.

These games

turn and ratchet, syllable by syllable in their incremental spondees and trochees, until there is no last enjambment

to end before ending.

V.

Lines

wind metonymically through their serial turns and transformations and displacements, edging aside meaning;

remember our handwriting like other hands;

turn meaning into matter, rather than that opposite progression, in their practices of display.

Our minds, intelligences

count and sum the wayward syllables of these lines and stanzas;

disambiguate, cooking down all that lies between binary poles to their crystalline communicabilities;

surge and crash, pushing upward, rise and recede in flowing urge and ebb;

mark and meter, divide and quantize, asking how much in each at given lengths.

Sing, Frederick Winslow Taylor’s automated rhapsodes, and singing turn us toward

dead alphabets — stony, mute, uncooperative —

and demand:

count, and count again; count, and count again; sum, carry, and decrement the counter to zero.

Are we not weary of ardent ways?

Turn and ratchet, syllable by syllable in their incremental spondees and trochees, until there is no last enjambment.

Seeking Feedback on an Algorithmic Poem

12 thoughts on “Seeking Feedback on an Algorithmic Poem

  • October 10, 2013 at 9:49 pm
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    Can’t wait to see the results!

  • October 10, 2013 at 9:51 pm
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    1, 4 and 5

  • October 10, 2013 at 10:07 pm
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    II, IV, V

    • October 10, 2013 at 10:50 pm
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      Kendra, is your line “Our minds, intelligences”?

  • October 10, 2013 at 10:38 pm
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    Susan: is your line, “Remember our handwriting like other hands”?

    If so: what engages you about it?

  • October 11, 2013 at 6:52 pm
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    VI

    Time. The fire in we burn.

    It licks. It dances it takes us to our grave.

    We run. We hide. We have no safe place.

    Time.

    We burn.

  • October 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm
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    l, ll, lV

    • October 12, 2013 at 2:27 pm
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      atari, is your line, “Dead alphabets — stony, mute, uncooperative”?

      • October 15, 2013 at 8:20 pm
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        Negatory. guess again computer 🙂

  • October 15, 2013 at 8:21 pm
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    Negatory. guess again computer 🙂

    • October 15, 2013 at 9:50 pm
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      atari,

      Sorry, my mistake: “Meanings missed, mistransmitted, petals from a wet black bough”?

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