“I Ask AI to Write a Poem for My Lover” by Shannan Mann

Shannan Mann


and it writes me a red flag. According to science,
love enters midlife crisis at 17 months. We are
at 11. Six more months, I tell him, until
the AI poem assembled from our woe-
and-woo world prophesizes our war.
But we’re having fun with this,
we’re piecing together a breadloaf
from crumbs like fire and flower.
Change flower, K says. We scroll
through a list of color and smell,
settle on lilies, cut and paste
them beside the lonely cursor.
He claims a poem is not just
the poem but the place it came
from too. I claim annoyance
with ether, with technology
selling water by the river.
And just as we want to scrape
together a sonnet, a power
cut obliterates the WiFi,
our screen goes black, the sonnet
of ones and zeroes yawns behind
the glass. We bite our lungs shut
in the prosthetic night, kiss like snow
on windshields. Our fingers flicker
against skin, trace a minefield
of muscle along spine. Clothes
crumble. Words linger like spiders
beneath the toilet bowl,
their bowstring legs attempting
to weave a world despite
all the shit. AI wouldn’t write
shit into a love poem, he says.
Wouldn’t feel the urge I do
to write you poems, fix you
dinner, speak to you differently
in bed than I do at the table.
Your words aren’t more yours
than in a poem. You do not own
language, but these birds
on a wire are yours alone.

from Poets Respond
February 19, 2023


Shannan Mann: “AI is going to be next year’s Poet Laureate.” (web)

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