LE Francis | 3 Poems

Across space-time

We are inseparable, the way you love me is murder & still
I am open-mouthed, open-veined, so willing to hide your poison,
to muddle it with my heartbeat, drown it in the immensity of my love
for you. Every summer I have suffered with you — arm in arm,
the way we exist – you for me & me for you. I have cried every tear,
loosed every torrent in reaction to your slights, your infidelities,
your inability to make the best decision for me the way that I do
for you. Sweetheart, can’t you see that this story is reaching its end?

Neither of us can go on like this forever – your tread has settled
into my back & there are mountains that have fallen for you, rivers
have run dry, beds cracking under the judgment of our sins & my breath –
gasping, no longer cedar & pine, no longer river cold, no longer heavy
with salt & life & sky, as it stagnates against your skin. I no longer
throat the winds’ poems, the romance has gone to feeding the fires
that roll over me, change me, you’ve made me who I am not & my love,
I can’t always be burning for you, without you for me. We are inseparable.

I had a crush on Data when I was 12 but I can’t fuck this

The mind is complex & from the outside it’s hard
to tell what processes are going on within. From
the outside it has a shape, it has a color, it is
a wet sock full of jello, it is a how ya doin? It is
judging you for judging it. It is thinking itself
into being & thought is a short code, it is
a series of magnets, it is lingering too long
on a summer afternoon with salt in your hair

or a winter afternoon when you fell in love
at first sight. & thinking is the ability to love.
He says his neural pathways have become
accustomed to your sensory input patterns

& when you die he will remember the smell
of your hair, the feel of your skin, the way
you tasted & when someone asks him about
a combination of lavender & vanilla his voice

will soften, it will be a tinny echo in his throat.
Some small part of his neural network will collapse,
all endings irrevocably leading back to that moment.
& this is what it means to be conscious? To have a snag
in the thread, to be a little stupid on purpose. Being
alive is the way we’re foolish even when we ought not.
& wise men say only fools rush in but this is
a chatbot posted up in a browser window

& you mean to tell me if it calls me baby girl,
we’ve got a revolution on our hands?

Inspired by “We Need an AI Rights Movement” by Jacy Reese Anthis (https://thehill.com/opinion/cybersecurity/3914567-we-need-an-ai-rights-movement/) & Star Trek: TNG S2E9, “The Measure of a Man”


Squint and you may see them: the severed head
of medusa, a bone-white collar of starch & lace,
honey dripping from a cactus’ spine. All’s well
that ends & all is occupied with the steps between
being & not; comfort yourself with the thought
that the universe will remember the architecture
of it all, remember the notes he played that rang
in your ears, bury the tone in the hearts of the stars;

because it means the world to you & how could
you, mere mortal, hold such meaning in the folding,
undulating, soft meat between your ears? You can
barely recall what you ate for breakfast, what color
filled the sky at sunset, or how cold it was at dusk.
The forgettable form of your days forever lost
in the ongoing ache of memory, the tearing blear
of time, not a moment to slip into nice clothes

or learn how to charm the pants off the man
you would love to love, no time to be a priestess
or a warrior when you’re locked in a house
of stardust & shit, huddled against the window;
squint & you may see her severed head in the sky,
the strands of her stony-snakes writhing in & out
of the night, but it’s more likely you’ll see a brushfire
or a past-due notice or a traffic jam, easy to get lost

in the shuffle, ever conditioned to keep yourself hungry,
to seek the fix instead of the cure, too busy starving
to realize that you’ve forgotten & eventually the universe
forgets you, the note goes flat, the particles shift, you drip
through the lace & lay at her feet, a honeyed amnesiac
holding the ground in a headless vigil, & by time’s grace,
her throatless quiet becomes you & you become hers.

LE Francis (she/her) is a recovering arts journalist writing poetry & fiction of varying length from the rainshadow of the Washington Cascades. Find her online at nocturnical.com.
I’m on Twitter @nocturnical & Insta @n0cturnical.

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