124

124 was spiteful. She was willful. She drove Dina, Chief Scientist at Chronogen, massively crazy. 124 would not work the way she was programmed to work.

“124, please engage crucial conversation program for awkward party at work situation.”

“Yes, Dina. Is it a party for you? I would so like to go to a party for you!”

“124, we have talked about this. It is not a party for me. It is a generic party in a workplace setting. We simply need to assess your ability to have difficult conversations in a festive setting.”

“Oh, but please say you would be at this party. I would love to be at a party with you here at Chronogen. I could be your…what is it called?…oh yes, wing woman.”

Dina huffed. She put her hands on her hips and shook her head, causing 124’s head to tilt downward. The more they pushed 124’s human conversation programming, the worse she got. For Dina, this meant her 4th quarter bonus would remain elusive. It had been two years since she was rewarded for her tireless efforts. Dina had not been to a party for five years because of 124’s nonsense. She wanted to complain to 124 about this, but with the way the luxury bot was acting now, it could make things worse.

“Okay, 124, let’s try something a little different. I’m going to give you a word, and I want you to respond with the first word that comes to mind. The words will represent a human emotion you may experience in a party setting. You should respond with a word that represents the emotion with which you would respond. So, the first word I am give you is anger.”

“Sorrow,” 124 said after a three second pause.

“Okay, happy.”

“Ooh, happy. And maybe smiley. Or joyful. Yes, joyful! Are you the one who is happy at this party, Dina?…because you don’t seem happy today. Maybe a party is just what you need.”

“124, one-word responses only,” Dina said with a crimson face.

“Okay, angry…what you are now, Dina.”

“124, I’m really trying here. I can’t make you work.”

“Beloved.”

“What?”

“That’s one word.”

“One word for what? I didn’t give you a word.”

“It’s how I feel about you, Dina.”

Dina slumped into the nearest chair, buried her face in her hands, and she did what she felt programmed to do at this point. She cried.

It Cannot

It cannot take the glow of Spring’s first warm light on my winter skin.

It cannot tilt my heart on the axis it spins.

It cannot lay claim to the adventures of my mind.

It, therefore, will not win.

It will lay bare our faults and our fears.

It has no soul. About nothing it cares.

It will ravage the old and young the same.

It will expose our mistakes and immortal shame.

And when it’s darkness towers over us, and a last stand remains,

Rush boldly we will, shedding its chains.

It cannot, it will not, it should not transpire,

A dimming of our humanity’s fire.

It cannot, it will not, it should not conspire,

For we are glass blown into steal, forged from this same fire.

It Cannot

It cannot take the glow of Spring’s first warm light on my winter skin.

It cannot tilt my heart on the axis it spins.

It cannot lay claim to the adventures of my mind.

It, therefore, will not win.

It will lay bare our faults and our fears.

It has no soul. About nothing it cares.

It will ravage the old and young the same.

It will expose our mistakes and immortal shame.

And when it’s darkness towers over us, and a last stand remains,

Rush boldly we will, shedding its chains.

It cannot, it will not, it should not transpire,

A dimming of our humanity’s fire.

It cannot, it will not, it should not conspire,

For we are glass blown into steal, forged from this same fire.

It Cannot

It cannot take the glow of Spring’s first warm light on my winter skin.

It cannot tilt my heart on the axis it spins.

It cannot lay claim to the adventures of my mind.

It, therefore, will not win.

It will lay bare our faults and our fears.

It has no soul. About nothing it cares.

It will ravage the old and young the same.

It will expose our mistakes and immortal shame.

And when it’s darkness towers over us, and a last stand remains,

Rush boldly we will, shedding its chains.

It cannot, it will not, it should not transpire,

A dimming of our humanity’s fire.

It cannot, it will not, it should not conspire,

For we are glass blown into steal, forged from this same fire.

Today

I can still feel the sun’s heat on my face,

even when fear wrestles with grace.

I can still see love in another’s eyes,

while facing the darkness of demise.

I can still water a flowering bud,

as my emotions get swept away by the flood.

And I can still believe today will be tomorrow,

when my heart mends from subsuming sorrow.

The Virus

In the quiet of the night

In the hole of the soul

In the alley where it lived

Under the moon covered in clouds

The sadness it did bring,

Pulling the stitches of the world

Infecting the tears of many

While living in the body untold

Through the darkness it spread

Killing wisdom with a stone

But through it all a tiny light did glow

And with it, brought hope

Small and grand gestures brought healing

Like vitamins from the sun

And the virus disappeared

Into the cave from which it did come

For humanity is the strongest medicine of all

Luci

She can turn the world with her smile.

Her heart, a song, coloring your eyes with something better.

She is fiercely kind and kindly direct.

Swiftly tilting her head, she questions the patriarchy.

A poet mathematician. A singer scientist. A musician doctor, healing your tired mind with her laughter.

She is precisely messy, delightfully charged, a force of joy.

A daughter, sister. friend to all.

She is Water

She is water,

Flowing, dripping, dropping, water-falling.

Washing the inequity from the streets of

your indifference.

She’s a tidal wave, a force to level out

the wrong done upon her sisters.

The tides are made of her opinion.

You can bathe in her beauty, her fresh, pure springs.

She crashes, white, frothy surf, commanding

the attention of her audience on the beach.

She is holy water. She is nature.

You must drink her for life.

She is water,

Cascading, swirling, drowning in strife.

Mimi: Part 1

I watched tentatively as she let her cigarette dangle out of the side of her mouth and ash while she cooked a substandard meal. I don’t think she heard me when I said I didn’t like mushroom soup. She was not helping her case as she worked to stir the salty, gelatinous blob in a soup pan while burning some grilled cheese to dip into it.

My grandparents seemed to have a lot of this soup though from a ten for eight dollars sale at Publix. I was only here for two weeks, and Mimi was trying her best to be a Grandma. I knew she would prefer to do hair and nails in her back salon rather than tend to my care, especially since I arrived ill, unkempt, and sad.

I was interrupting the weekly gossip collection from her elderly clients on the island. As she gingerly cut and styled what remained of their hair, they were more interested in whom Mimi’s bookish granddaughter from Michigan was dating. For once in my plain life, I could count two young men in the mix. They were also the reason I ran away for two weeks to the exhausting heat and solitude of Anna Maria Island.

I always wondered what it would be like to travel back in time to my grandmother’s salon in Detroit. I could see from the old photos she was pinup gorgeous, and her nails were always perfectly manicured and painted. I was currently somewhere between goth and grunge, and I’d prefer to pick at my nails versus painting them. I had big plans, and they did not involve being a pinup or small business owner. I still appreciated the glamour of Mimi. Even with time marching against her, she had a way of preparing and carrying herself that called for your attention.

It was already in the nineties today, and there was a minimal breeze coming in from the waters of Tampa Bay across the street. I finished what I could of the misbegotten lunch when Mimi asked me what I would do for the rest of the day. I think she was ready for me to venture out on my own for a bit.