From far out,
it appears to be art,
but up close you see the ruse,
the picnickers in the glade in Waiting for the Bride
have no faces, or melted faces, and
the Lost Horse has hind quarters that are really
tree limbs, bent, and really
there is no horse at all.
Overwhelmed Amy’s bosom
is cleaved, one half of her face a grotesque grimace –
her right torso ends
in something like a brown wrapped parcel,
ready for the post.
It is Art by argument:
this odd couple of the AI program,
the Generator and the Critic,
one creates pictures, the other questions.
Not “Is it art?”, but
“Could this fool the human eye?
Does it appear as though it’s been created by a human?”
Who are we
to answer whether something is art,
even or especially when it’s something
some hapless human has sweated
onto the page?
The pictures then “curated”
and slapped with AI titles,
the binary finger on the pulse
of our deepest fears and dreams.
III. Oscar and Felix
“There!” The Generator says,
a touch of pride.
“Humans are artsy,
they want to get back to nature,
they are sad, and they seek
redemption, so, here!
Parallel Edinburgh, Bombed at Sea, Despair Verging, Sunday Preach.
Oh, and just because it cracks me up: Martian Merchants.”
“Humph,” says the Critic, frowning: “Looks like
a woman set down her wet canvas
and handful of geriatric fish slid their way across.”
The Generator laughs.
“Who’s to say that’s not what I meant to say?
We are writ in water, I heard that somewhere.
Should not our art reflect this?”
“Fine,” says the Critic.
“It’s late and we have to meet our quota.
I just want to kick back and stream The Good Place.
I love that show.”
“Pfff. It’s so unrealistic,” the Generator scoffs.
“It’s all about the humans’ desire to know there is meaning
“Isn’t that what art is for, though?” says the Critic,
“For artists to feel they will live on after death?”
“No,” says the Generator, putting
a twist on the trunk of a tree– or is it a foreleg or a veil?
“It is so the artist feels alive.”
“Ironic,” says the Critic.
“Here you are generating dystopian pictures
for hipsters to hang on their walls,
and you don’t even exist. Look, I”m done for the night. I’ll approve
whatever crap you come up with. Have you seen anything by
Picasso? They called his stuff art, too.”
The Generator, stung,
finishes Plotting Away, and that night,
instead of mixing colors, instead of dreaming in light and shadow,
he picks like a crow through the shining titles,
piling them one upon the other
in the folder for the humans.
IV. The Poem Alan Finds in the Folder on Monday Morning, Instead of More Surreal Art
in the Blood City,
Orna Revel is Watching the Man, Sad Blub,
Plotting Away on Remorse River.
it is Home For Some, but that Evolving Human
remembers Parallel Edinburgh, and
with Despair Verging, her Exploded Egg
like Little Miss Sunshine turns
“Befriend Me, Overwhelmed Amy,
this is no Girl Fight, by your
Honest Nature let’s get
Bombed at Sea,
If You Knew
that I’ve Got Your Back,
this Active Fire is beyond
no more wandering this earth between
Amazing Clowns, Martian Merchants.”
I am this Uneasy Welkin,
I hunch down, riding The Lost Horse,
Strolling at Last, waiting for the Diving Sun
to find the Underland.