Author’s note: Back in 1999, Heather McHugh described my poem “Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot,” winner of Boston Review’s second annual poetry contest, as a kind of odd love song between Sand and Soot; or, as I saw it, between computational life and organic life. If, in McHugh’s phrase, the Ballad is a love song of “inspired polarity,” my forthcoming book, Dragon Logic, is more ‘experienced,’ more deeply plunged in a hybrid electronic/physical, virtual/real world with new ley lines overlaid on old. These poems take us from Neolithic myth to Emerald Viewer software in Linden Labs Second Life and from the work of nineteenth-century physicists, Willard Gibbs and James Clerk Maxwell, to the work of my colleagues, Talan Memmott and Jeremy Douglass, who pioneered work in born-digital literature and art. Dragon Logic is a book of eco-poetry that seeks to expand the meaning of environment, evoking the work of women and figures of women, asking the abstract and the physical to engage each other.
cranium chambered cairn and passage grave
bulging Neolithic earth mound enclosing the vault
calibrated stone to this standard surpasses us
lost too inner touch on bone pale solstice beam
dervish Snow Queen covens of raven rim her platinum
cloak downed traces of her sledge paused print a fine grid
on the peregrine’s pouring away world of no attachment
tilting wakes twisting falls sinking panes of land and water
dive-bomb raptor-force 200 miles per hour stoop!
copy and mod her aerial maneuvers map Northern core
rock extinct volcanoes lush with perforations cloak them
suspend them under numbers shadows from another place
—or site : the Emerald Viewer marks an avatar invisible
as it visits strolls beneath the lindens the lime honey bracts
in the log-on Lab World structured from permissions where
who hangs at your space from your space’s erased from you
nor can you take your own movement for granted
earth and physics afterthought ( interface ) you install
an IM app in your dream equip folding but unfading
tutelary mesmerie with chat while falling as a peregrine
tinsel buttercup foil painted roof ruined roof of the Plaza
verdigris mansard copper slate rushing toward her she could tell
by a tension in the air wire-fine overhead—one rustling
shift—time to be swept back to sea so typed in mistakenly
( no peregrine eye ) randomly assigned CAPTCHA squiggle
Turing test box of twisted-letter text to tag her
Gibbs gifted Maxwell with a plaster cast
the size of a fist. Locked in its grip
each & every history of water; the cast, a grandsire
node on the traceroute of legible images of total time.
Talan made a movie, nipple tree of Nowhere, Ingenstans,
Sweden’s riverbank where the children drowned,
children run over by a boat—by a bot. Why seek
to tell them apart ( children and bots ) reliably
or fast? To keep polls ( clicks ) unpolluted, discount
ersatz million hits. People suck at this, too slow,
run over; so, yes, an automatic application : you play,
it gets smarter. Talan cites Duchamp, Network of Stoppages.
Cortical CPU network body—angled upon it, slices
and shadows, assembled, loom by torchlight; comely
substitutions, cool, as-if-new, code-views expose-
distort, as they blow up, manifolded-ness-entanglement.
Jeremy’s, volumetric; Talan urges tesseractic. No more!
Reverse-engineering ‘nature’? Nature, please, is Disney—
Reverse instead reverse-engineering’s computational
feat—or drive it forward, for we tire, conscious
choice, of the sea on fire—we cannot chance
that the oil would stop without it, without simulation.
The deep water drilling didn’t start without one.
Apocalypse, how long? Eleven-million years or so
ago, sonar probes, ping-echoing easy-pass dolphin bands
began to sentinel-haunt, to test, to re-shape the coasts.