What can we get behind, if not
By daylight, under eyelids it may be
A sometimes-lovely backdrop, hell
holder of presence. Why holster
Brandishing purse-sized guns or reality
The visible is only a placeholder for real desire.
THE ROBOT EMANCIPATES ITSELF
In this at least it’s way
Not too happy with
Along, wires fizzing
Success in circuit
Art after their makers
To program adapting, becoming
Failing to imagine. Whose
Not to think about
A buffing rag, we’re
It rained. He needed
Ever did. Unlike
Title from Artists and Robots, Grand Palace, 2018.
About "Robot": For me, the state of dislocation induced by travel, art, or time change—the unfamiliar in general—is a productive one for poetry. This poem had all three: I was in Paris, deeply jet-lagged, and looking not only at art but at art for which programming was the common medium for expression. One of the ideas that really engaged me was the way in which many of these works keep growing beyond their creators, so that they become expressions the creators couldn’t have foreseen. Of course, this is the problem of artificial intelligence, not to mention Frankenstein: at what point does the creature become a self, with determination? Like "Platonic," the poem investigates the nature of reality and what we can really know about it, which seems to be my subject these days.
In case you’re curious, see a self-portrait in the exhibit: