Jennifer K. Dick

                                                                                                                   Side of that fishtank dinner.
                                                                                                                   Waiter in a sort of mime act.

England, I'd hear, had been left off some tangled backroad map.
You took us home, played Shawn Colvin, seeing tropical fins between, or on, us.
That game of then-who-bottled-me-up in order to pay?
Back again, against, to play out my turn with a few sips, then the roles searing through
the processes, or algorithms.

                                                          Simply be unconscious, you said, processing me atop the mattress.
                                                          "The results" I cawed, "intelligence, what does it matter? What
                                                          symbol, by the synapse, perceptrons, made up logic? To its human

Every nook and '50s artifice tries to simulate wiring.

As silly as feathered rings.                             As important.                                        This neurobiology.

                                                                                                                    What were we thinking of thought?
No matter.
Programs could be falsified, stilted in my brain.                                              A blur spoke,
                                                                                                                                  gesticulating mimesis,
                                                                                                                                  accents in place.
It was only the waiter returned again.
You ordered through the snow, then pulled out a scintillating file-folder on intelligence by
                                         "Trying to make us smarter was not in HOW" you liked to say, "but in
                                         what an accident of how complex the mind broken into a finite number
                                         of step-by-step hunches would, if aware of symbols crumbling into
                                         thought, produce."

It was not about the number of intelligentsia or engrams using obscure info.

You put us on display, then subdivided.
Now it was my turn to say something:                "Door."

You walk us swiftly, harmoniously through the chain smoke.          Heart-fluttered-stop.
                                                                                                                                                 Sun clearly
on the cloud's verso, though it was my birthday.
                                                                                                         For me, it is in the lingo, as in "later".
TV must've whisked you—or the waiter—away.
Sleeplessness and a guitar propped in the doorway: cubist manifesto.

I was intuition-calling, sifting through how we began weaving without underscoring the
effectiveness of the kind of loom you used.

                                        Which was the atom's spiraling symbiology?                           Inventions.

How was the cranny of the memory made?                                                                     A scarf.
carried us to that tiny bedroom.

In vodka, you revised.
Reversed icicles above our door.

                                                                  Late arguing in brain-tangles, airplanes with flapping arms
                                                                  would work that out better.
Details of evolution,                               rules,                                                 programs embedded in us.



In "Systems of Symbols" a transcription of a personal memory of times spent with a past lover has been filtered through the language of the history of scientific investigation (based out of George Johnson's pop sci book, In the Palaces of Memory (Vintage, 1991)), into how memory is made and where it is located in the brain. The poem is a reading/writing collaboration inspired by Johnson's section headings which I used as the poem's title. I wrote memories it evoked, selected paragraphs or lines from his chapter of the same title, and sketched them out as they related for me to what I had written. Then, in the tradition of  Tzara, Burroughs or contemporary poet Mei-mei Brussenbrugge, these materials were cut apart, rearranged, interspersed and in many ways eliminated and erased into and through each other. Scattered about like odd bits and pieces gathered together in the neurons of our brain, crisscrossing and short-circuiting, the language of this memory-text encounter was then re-ordered sonorically. In revisions I wrote new sections and eliminated others, thus the past becomes interpreted, mis-interpreted. The recollection of the lover (and the researcher) is lost or perhaps differently located in the new language where syntax gets spiny or knotted like a neuron. The two worlds (science-love) are opposed, yet strangely the scientific language brings the recalled to its greatest truths (and vice-versa), though the inter-relation itself becomes flippant, coy, sarcastic, removed, and damaging, just as leaving or being left by the lover injures us, or trying merely to understand each other is the most puzzling and infuriating aspect of a relationship (and of research).