I was just informed that Shakespeare
wrote seven of the Top 100 Poems of
All Time, and that my share of those
top poems, though still at zero, could
increase dramatically if I entered this
contest, which, if I won, would not
only catapult me to the upper echelon
of poetic genius, but would also include
a $50 cash prize!

And this got me thinking
which got me dreaming
which got me worrying
What about the robots?

They're sure to crack the code soon,
invent a "Deep Blue" of verse
which will quickly be replicated into
thousands of compact, portable poetry machines
which will all sit atop their metal desks
tapping their digits and processing,

Soon, they'll be winning all the contests,
dominating the slams,
so we'll host a big "write-off" between
the top robo-poet and Maya Angelou.
It'll be held in Warsaw, or somewhere like that
and they'll serve those little triangular sandwiches.

It'll go seven round:
       Two wins each, two draws, and then
       on the seventeenth hour of the second day
       Maya will storm from the arena in disgust
       disqualified for misplacing a modifier
       (she'll later discover that is was
       in her jacket pocket all along,
       a mistake which she will carry
       to the grave, quite literally, as she
       will be struck down by a motorist
       less than a month later, the modifier
       still squeezed in her cold, black fist).

We'll write letters to the editors
protesting this new conquest of poetry
       (being robots, of course,
       they won't publish them)
but eventually we'll settle into this new arrangement.
We'll hear ourselves saying,
"I liked how all the words were in the right places!"
We'll forget a time when it was any different.

So I've decided I'd better submit to
this contest while I still have the chance.
I'm working on a piece that starts:
but I'm thinking that's a little too
wordy, and from a distance it sort
of looks like a caterpillar, which, I've
heard, most of the judges find off-putting.

from the 2007 issue of The Feathertale Review.
see my notes on the issue, and this poem, here.


Zachariah Wells said...

The robots are already here, Rob. One goes by the name Christian Bok.

rob taylor said...

ha! actually, the first time i read this poem to an audience was about an hour after Christian Bok had read on the same stage...

it seemed fitting