Occult

A dream world, where money is thought to be real and intelligence is the artifice of enmeshed gears having turned, is now fully realized within the vacuum of the cloud by machines incapable of wondering exactly what happens to you when you die.”

The meaning of death is that you can’t think your way through it, and meaning is something always arrived at by thinking. So it’s kind of confounding, a paradox, and a bit frightening because we depend on thinking to get through everything. And yet, some of us want machines to think through things for us in a kind of dereliction of duty, a kind of meta-mistake where we shift responsibility for increasingly important, mission critical activities to a churning host of algorithms which we think can’t make mistakes. If that is an extension of our own thinking (the one place in the universe where mistakes can happen) then it isn’t necessarily bad, but it must share space within the same confines.

“I think, therefore AI.”

Thinking likes knowledge, the accumulation of correlated things, but wisdom just wants to see clearly. Wisdom has no bonafides, it shuns accomplishment. It sheds credentials the way a snake sheds skin. You see clearly. The material which appears when the light shines, it appears to the wisdom in you. If you want to reflect upon it afterward there’s nothing wrong with that, unless that thinking supplants the view. And that is what thinking tends to do. It is sometimes called reflection because thoughts can become the cause of more thoughts, leaving us even more removed from the glimpses of wisdom which are endlessly obscured by that wall where the pride of intellect displays all its trophies. In this sense, the material world, the world we embrace through thought, becomes the occult. And AI is just one of the many monsters hiding in its darkness.

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Poacher’s Grip

our jeep tracks on the savanna
under shimmering GPS satellites
my hands on these tusks
your DNA on this currency
we see the world like ivory
we see ivory

a tusk, a carving
a little dragon made of ivory
rare, valuable, and like a child
I’ve been told not to touch
as the money march of days, the trades
the deals gone sideways, the dancing
obscene jig of shifting market values
stampede through the grass huts
of all my efforts, my wrongdoings
the dream chasers, now the prey
my own teeth thought valuable
apart from my mouth
like a smile, apart from my face
on each side of my trunk, reaching
down and then up
from below my seeing eyes
to above

the border has fallen
defend us at the tree line
the village has fallen
defend us at our cottages
the perimeter is breached
defend us at the closet door
the door is opened
defend us at our honor

with our cache of ivory
and the betrayal of our
childish love of elephants

the gospel of the marked

talk about your wordless moment
every move an escape from the present

and we worry about oppression
as if it comes from without

those imprisoned for their ideas
were already imprisoned by them

there are no false moves
only moves falsely accused

there is wordlessness and long cons
and not much in between

Harvey

they express to us often
our customers, that their relationship
to books is sacred

and I don’t push my view
that it is the right to publish
and read freely that is sacred

it’s their business
if they want to practice idolatry
or view their shelves as altars

the books themselves are
no more durable than the
knuckle skin

of a man heaving soaking
wet books by the boxfull
into a dumpster

but, we do understand
these bound signatures are
in fact the medium

of something more potent
than mere talk, or knowledge
that has never been shared

and not just objects
to be bought and sold
by jaded, heartless merchants


I work at the used book store in Galveston, Texas, where our neighbors on the mainland to the North have been flooded catastrophically by a week of unrelenting, unimaginable rain. We got enough water in the store to ruin some of our used stock, and were back up and running a day later. Can’t stop thinking about our big sister Houston, and her suffering right now.

Hurricane Harvey, 2017

Heads

time coughing up the minutes
like pepper from a shaker
taking its time
taking the time it takes
I don’t fall for it
not for a minute

they call it time
I call it: heads
the coin flips through the
airborne flecks of pepper

no more real or not real
than ghosts, memories, minutes