A short story flops
along the banks of the river
until it is thrown back in.
A song escapes into the yard
and loiters around the neighborhood.
My mama sent my novel to stay
with a family who lives in the country.
It depends on what you mean by real,
by algorithm, by meat containers,
by Ada Lovelace, by physical world.
You argue that an idea is only a way
to perceive existing data, like a new kind of microscope,
but I argue that a new perceptual tool
simultaneously expands the data.
You say I shouldn’t confuse the model for the subject.
We walk down the street, kicking walnuts ahead,
catching up, kicking.
A man passes us, carrying a hot dog,
which is exactly my point, although you’re not having it.
I say that observation is a miracle,
and by definition, miracles have impact on their subjects.
You say that I am cheating
by going into woo-woo stuff.
I say you won’t have any fun if you
insist on invalidating strange territories.
It depends on what you mean by fun.
The frontier of a skyscraper at nine p.m.
Bathrooms locked. Missing lights.
Steel bones creaking with the wind.
A woman, pressing the seams of a cubicle wall, whispering,
“I believe in the long game.”
On This Island
Every Scrabble box only has Q tiles.
A Sega Genesis longs to be penetrated
and a five and a quarter inch floppy longs to fit.
Wallflower electrons charge the margins.
There are drawers filled with bent second hands,
The primary objective of the private detective
is to transcribe the owlish cries of the freshly scorned.
The Gospel According to Joe
He listens to the whale song of the ultrasound,
eyes closed. Yep yep yep yep yep, it sings to him.
Blub wub blob wob wob, says the doctor.
He catalogs sensations for future scriptures:
How it feels as if somebody is raking
a set of keys over his gallbladder;
How getting dressed is like
navigating an Escher sketch;
How every morning a ghost
fixes him two pieces of toast and two eggs,
and some mornings he only throws
up one each.
Sacred and scared might as well be
the same word.
He keeps waking up in the thin hours of
the morning and dialing his mother’s number,
even though she has been dead ten years.
“Sorry, it’s Joe again,” he says each time.
“Oh, how are you, sweetheart,” says his not-Mom.
Borb lorb brorb rorb rorb.
He opens his eyes.
He stares at the image and strains to describe
the tears that crest his jawline.
Sara Renberg is a Portland-based poet, musician, and programmer. She is the author of a chapbook called Victory Guide.