i'm in ur literature

This thread on Making Light was too much fun for me to remain in lurk mode.

oh noes! u ses cat splode wit fries!
u tells: eat mice!
cat knows a flavor of desirez
and hungry cat so fond of fries...
but if mousburger has a spice
or fries all eated, bucket lost,
ur feebl offring may suffice--
is can be tossed?
k thx byes.

For Kicks, a Cinquain

I'm not
I sit on the table,
Waiting for the tendon hammer--
To blame.

This came out of some thoughts that ran through my mind as I was reading a discussion of moral agency in Daniel Dennett's Freedom Evolves. I initially envisaged it as something around sonnet length, but the concept boiled right down to a snapshot of self-delusion.

Scenes from an Imaginary Romance

I'm a regular reader of xkcd, a web comic of quirky, geeky, romantic fun. It's one of the pages that regularly makes me smile. In just such a quirky, geeky, romantic mood, I decided to write some poems (i.e. frivolous verse), which I'll call Scenes from an Imaginary Romance.

Getting to know you

Because the day was frustrating,
because the evening was balmy,
because the restaurant was already packed,
because the next street would be lively,
because the lane was a quicker route,
because the shadows concealed,
because the addiction compelled,
because the knife craved cash or blood,
I saw more to you than I ever expected,
and a junkie clutched his groin.

It doesn't take much

Even without music-manipulated emotions
or pheromone-spiced senses
or dopamine-powered perceptions,
a single moment's synchrony
can taste like destiny...
Damn your statistics! This was meant to be.

Up close

Binocular reflections warp a room I thought I knew:
your floor distorted, walls non-parallel, ceiling quirked,
curved curtains and TV both reframing an obtuse world,
a coffee table inclined to agree,
and a gravity well sofa.
Was I wrong to look so deeply?

Night Stray

It's after 1am; the concert's done
and neon keeps the empty street alive.
Break step, walk backwards, shuffle, spin and sing,
and relive all the best lines of the night,
then wonder why she signals me to hush.

I freeze mid step, a classic cartoon pose,
then turn to where she gazes. It's a cat,
coquetting down the catwalk of the street
bewitching with that vain mesmeric tail.

Follow. Let the creature lead the way.
Ignore the bounds of privacy. The night
gives license to explore, to find the place
of perfect pleasure only cats can know.

And now it's 6am; I'm feeling cold,
despite the sleeping girlfriend in my arms
(and friendly cat against my thigh). A man
is just about to open his back door,
and ask me why the hell
we're rolling in his celery garden.


Pharyngula: Music for Cephalopodmas

Long time ago in elder days,
So the traveling cultist raves,
A great stone city, tombs and all,
Had sunk beneath the waves.

Hark, you fools: That is not dead
Which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death,
Yes, even death may die.

In his house the Dread One dreams;
Wait upon that day
When Old Ones rise to rule the earth
And mankind burns to play.

When psychics tell of dreams at night
They speak of cities strange and vast
With Titan blocks and monoliths
Imbued with horror's cast,
All clad in ooze and hieroglyphs;
And from some point below
There comes a voice, that's not a voice,
Of chaos none should know.

Hark, you fools: That is not dead
Which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death,
Yes, even death may die.

In his house the Dread One dreams;
Wait upon that day
When Old Ones rise to rule the earth
And mankind burns to play.

The great priest, in his chasm of stone
Since when the sun was young,
Inspires his own to prance and slay
And yell with alien tongue.
In time this utter loathsomeness
Shall greet our human eyes;
For what has risen yet may sink,
And what has sunk may rise.

Hark, you fools: That is not dead
Which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death,
Yes, even death may die.

In his house the Dread One dreams;
Wait upon that day
When Old Ones rise to rule the earth
And mankind burns to play.

(Crossposted from PhaWRONGula)

Silver Celebration

Though others' have ended in tears,
Our alchemy's right, it appears,
'Cause it's silver we've made
From one lad and one maid,
And it only took twenty-five years.

This non-exothermic reaction
Begins with a chemical attraction;
The reagents, once hitched,
Are entwined and enriched,
But I'd best say no more of the action.

November Defrosted

The vernal nymph is here with me,
Now searing sun, now pelting rain.
One day brings hail; the next may be
A kiln to burst the withered tree
And blow its ashes down the lane.

She's flighty, never one to stay
For long in any mood. She, list-
less, brushing cirrus art away,
Repaints my vista turgid grey,
Then steams it with her radiant mist.

The doused then dessicated trees,
The pristine turned to gritty sky,
Are what this Melbourne dweller sees
Of springtime's thoughtless pranks, but these
Are always welcome. Ask me why.

No matter what she throws, I know
At worst it lasts for hours or days;
I fear no months of silent snow,
No ice encrusted hunger; so,
For this alone she merits praise.

Looking Back

Remember early info-age
Before 2K & 10,
When genome seqs were run by geeks
On hardware humming hot for weeks;
All brains were simple then.

Recall the days of Hollywood
When starlets ruled the screen,
When flesh-life still had roles to fill
In 2-D movies shot to thrill--
So quaintly pre-machine.

Remember when the snake oil flowed
In PowerPoint plus poise--
The next big thing with QA lingo
Boomed your biz with buzzword bingo
Meaning lost in noise.

Remember when the minds of men
Spent weekends watching jocks,
When freaks of meat with agile feet
Were lionized for sheer conceit
And pimped by idiot box.

Remember when the brightest minds
Were valued overseas,
But strapped for cash, their budgets slashed,
Were treated here like neuro-trash,
Divided by degrees.

Remember how teh stoopid spread,
Infecting unsafe heads,
When fundie fools could castrate schools
And stifle thought with prudish rules
Enforced by covert feds.

The world was hateful-crazy then
Before the New Cognition
With every child from birth beguiled
By ancient myths contrived and styled
On gods and superstition.

It's hard to think of how they coped
With fear-memes running mad;
So few could see how life could be--
That all they had to do was free
The simple brains they had.

[Cross posted from PhaWRONGula.]


Applicant A, with her long résumé,
Boasted many a project completed.
She'd seen great successes (and last minute stresses,
But always come through undefeated).
Her contracts were many, not staying in any
One place very long; now her hope
Was a stable position. My final decision:
Too flighty--I doubt that she'd cope.

Applicant B, with her smooth repartee
Seemed a wonderful fit for the role;
I quizzed, "Motivation to change occupation?"
She answered, "Career's in a hole."
I had probed, "So you'd go? Leave your old place with no
One to shoulder your share of the toil?"
Then I bade her good-bye with a frustrated sigh:
I'm looking for someone more loyal.

Applicant C had a recent degree
With distinctions and honors throughout.
And although she was young, it was clear that this one
Knew her discipline inside and out.
On her qualifications and college ovations
She'd send other applicants packing.
In short: she's well prepped for this placement, except
That in years of experience, she's lacking.

Applicant D was extended the freedom
To try an alternate career;
(Despite working madly the business went badly--
Rightsizing was swift and severe.)
Though her CV was good, she was jobless: she couldn't
Be trusted to fill this position.
Well, would you accept aid from a girl who had made
Such a fated employment decision?

It's frightfully hard to find one I'd regard
As a barely acceptable choice,
Much less one imbued with the right attitude,
Habits, bearing, appearance and voice.
I advertise widely (I once even tried
Leaving flyers where hopefuls might mingle),
But the dregs that apply make me wonder if I
Might be better off staying a single.

A Sonnet for Silvía

My vote is in! It's Silvía, all the way!
Congratulations Iceland on your choice
Of goddess diva, She-who's-here-to-stay,
With hell-cool hawtness, ice-fire angel voice.
Against the pale pubescent pop debris
She deigns to sing--a gift, a perfect Night
That anal Eurovisionaries fail to see
With heads stuck where their lawyers look for light.
Disqualify! Disqualify! they bray,
With prudish rules to prop their fossil fears
While Waterloo-esque wanking wins the day;
They set their pop song contest back by years.
Oh Silvía, charming, cheeky-chic and clever,
Oh Silvía, dahhling, I can wait forever.

Beast Poems

Don't fall out of your VirJournal-viewing VR suits: I'm preparing something well in advance of when it's needed--nearly four weeks early. I'm defining a new poetic form to celebrate the Day of the Beast*.

Yes folks, here's another dose of finding meanings patterns in arbitrary numbering systems. This year, the sixth of June (06/06/06) will be Beast Day, and since all eschatological predictions so far have failed to ramp the panic meter up as far as "waves of vague anxiety," I'm going to stick my neck out and predict a very, very dull, non-apocalyptic Tuesday in June.

So how will we give this Beast Day a sense of occasion? By writing poems acknowledging the real beasts in our lives.

How to write a Beast Poem:

  • It must be about a real, tangible beast (yes, humans are valid targets)
  • It must start with the name of the beast
  • It should include uncomplimentary material about the beast
  • It must have 3 lines
  • It must have 6 syllables per line
  • All three lines must have a consistent rhythm (the rhythm will be somewhat constrained by the name of the beast at the start)
  • The ends of the lines should not rhyme with one another, but the rest of the words should echo the sounds of the end words in some way: rhyme, assonance, consonance etc.

I've written some examples, taking the four Birman beasts residing at HouseOfVirge as targets.

Isadora will gnaw;
Her affections inflict
Fond impressions of dents.

Lu-Tze often loses
Scrunchy pills of paper
Skittered in the kitchen.

Windle Poons pounces with
Unexplained élan up
Sheer-sided service chutes.

Tattybogle's talents
Lie in lying daily--
Lazy leonining.

And since I'm feeling prophetic, here's a prediction for Sigga:

Nikita is KITTEN!
With bated breath waiting
Bare ankle to rankle.

There, you see. Beast Poems are easy (compared with Double-Dactyls, not Fibs). Just 18 syllables. 666. I haven't started exploring the depth of the "uncomplimentary material" rule. That could be lots of fun. How about a Beast Poem full of snark?

* not to be confused with the 1995 movie of the same name

[update: added hyphen to sheer-sided]

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