Size / / /

Weary at the bar,

the cyberneticist asked,

"What am I doing wrong?

I wanted to make robot poets.

I gave them perfect rhyme,

clear memories of great works,

aesthetic theory and polished

skill at intricate patterns.

All they write is crap.

Unworthy of a Hallmark card."

A long draught. "Help me?"

The poet tapped the bar.

"Hit me," he said. "Ah!

I'll need a hammer,

some magnets, a handful

of dust, and a knife."

The poet set to work.

He cast magnets among them

pocking perfect memories with potholes

till verse became a stay against loss.

He hit them with the hammer,

some here, some there.

All dented, all different.

He scattered dust upon their sensors,

dribbled it in their joints.

So they all saw the world

through unique imperfections

and walked with personal rhythms.

They remembered perfection,

remembered memory even,

but knew neither any longer.

Their hymns rose up

aching, moving, improving.

They were good, the

cyberneticist impressed. "Wow,"

he said. "But what about the knife?

Oh." He watched the poet slice

his throat, anoint his charges,

and walk among them.

Falling, they rose up, recounting and

replacing pain with greatness.

Any rumors you've heard about Greg Beatty's time at Clarion West 2000 are probably true. Greg (email Greg) publishes everything from poetry about stars to reviews of books that don't exist. Greg Beatty lives in Bellingham, Washington, where he tries, unsuccessfully, to stay dry. Greg recently got married. You can read more by Greg in our Archives.
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