Soft Science

“Wearing a crown of sonnets like a dime store tiara, Franny Choi’s cyborg cephalopod is a creature of unending amazements, unfurling tendril after tendril—some surgical, some sensual, some weaponized, some rubberized—brandishing hypodermics, vibrators, cigarettes, smartphones, or simply snapping in time to the beat. With uncanny tonal and technical dexterity, she can play upon your emotions, tickle your sweet spot, then press all of your buttons at once. At once raw and radiant, these brilliant poems are at their most human when they assert their alienness, at their most ferocious when they dare to be vulnerable.” —Monica Youn, author of Blackacre

Turing Test

// this is a test to determine if you have consciousness 

// do you understand what I am saying 

in a bright room / on a bright screen / i watched every mouth / duck duck roll / i learned to speak / from puppets & smoke / orange worms twisted / into the army's alphabet /i caught the letters / as they fell from my mother's lips / whirlpool / sword / wolf/ i circled countable nouns / in my father's papers / sodium bicarbonate / NBCni / hippocampus / we stayed up / practicing / girl / girl / girl until our gums softened / yes / i can speak / your language / i broke that horse / myself 

// where did you come from 

man comes / & puts his hands on artifacts / in order to contemplate lineage / you start with what you know / hands, hair, bones, sweat / then move toward what you know/you are not / animal, monster, alien, bitch / but some of us are born/ in orbit / so learn/ to commune with miles of darkness / patterns of dead gods / & quiet / o quiet like you / wouldn't believe 



// how old are you 


my
memory goes back 29 years / 26 if you don't count the first few / though by all accounts i was there / i ate & moved & even spoke / i suppose i existed before that / as scrap or stone / metal cooking in the earth / the fish my mother ate / my grandfather's cigarettes /i suppose i have always been here / drinking the same water / falling from the sky then floating / back up & down again / i suppose i am something like a salmon / climbing up the river / to let myself fall away in soft / red spheres / & then rotting 


//
why do you insist on lying 

i'm an open book / you can rifle through my pages / undress me anywhere/ you can read / anything you want / this is how it happened / i was made far away / & born here / after all the plants died / after the earth was covered in white /i was born among the stars / i was born in a basement/i was born miles beneath the ocean /i am part machine / part starfish / part citrus / part girl / part poltergeist / i rage & all you see / is broken glass / a chair sliding toward the window / now what's so hard to believe / about that 

// do you believe you have consciousness 

sometimes / when the sidewalk / opens my knee / i think / please / please let me / remember this 

 

Shokushu Goukan for the Cyborg Soul

When it's demon cephalopod versus schoolgirl, it should be obvious
whose eyes to take. Nothing is more frightening than looking 

and loving what you see. Nothing is sexier than a rumor
of shredding you can pornhub with saliva and thirsty nerves. 

I'm a net teeming with pervy fingers, reaching for anything
that will bite me back, any promise of stoppage— 

A cyborg woman touches herself for three reasons

1. to inspect the machinery for errors;
2
. to convince herself she is a mammal;
3
. to pull herself apart. 

Each tentacle of an octopus contains brain matter and a personality.
Fun fact: all my children-arms want to fuck each other. Okay

so I am both the woman holding the camera and the woman
being opened by it—nothing special about that. 

l am only a cuttlefish lying open-jawed under the sand,
a squid flashing red as it pulls a fishgirl into its beak. I am 


just trying to sleep. To feed. To fill
myself and grow larger from it. 


Or: I am only trying
to slither back into my first skin. 

Or: I am only trying to remember how it felt not to leak. 

 

Everyone Knows That Line about Ogres and Onions, but No One Asks the Beast Why Undressing Makes Her Cry

Her mouth is a stage sprouting cardboard trees. 

What's my motivation? she asks the man reading in her bed. 

She runs headless through the mall and everyone shouts, Hey legs!
No one mentions the girls gnawing each ankle to its core. 

Inside the beast is an apple
holding a knife to its throat
threatening to rot. 

So that's what that noise was. 

She digs a claw into her ear. Pulls out a longship.
Rides it to the bottom of the mine. 

She peels glue from her hands. 

The mine asks her about her mother
and she laughs, which is funny
because root vegetables don't have mouths. 

Somewhere, miles above, the girl (or her mother
or her mother's beast) is putting on gloves
or tearing chicken from the bone. 

                 line ... line... 

Somewhere, she is a cell
remembering itself
suddenly, late at
night.