“I Asked the Chatbot to Write about a Lighthouse, but It Generated Lies” by Pamela Lucinda Moss

Lighthouse at the Edge of the World by G.G. Silverman, photograph of a lighthouse in fog

Image: “Lighthouse at the Edge of the World” by G.G. Silverman. “I Asked the Chatbot to Write about a Lighthouse, but It Generated Lies” was written by Pamela Lucinda Moss for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, March 2023, and selected as the Artist’s Choice. (PDF / JPG)


Pamela Lucinda Moss


You need to be human to know about lighthouses.
You need to know what it feels like to wait in the dark for your teenager to come home, with your weighted blanket and your dachshund stretched long against your side, your brain spinning with worry, flashing beams of fear into the blackness of your bedroom.
You need to feel old. You need to mis-hear things, mis-state things. Mess up the arithmetic when you add a tip to your check at the 65th Street Diner. Write a note to your kid that says: You rip what you sew. Write in your journal: I am in the throws of motherhood.
You need to feel fear and rigidity as you stand on your metaphorical windy promontory, poised at the point where land and sea and the rest of your life meet, but maybe not so much fear that you write reviews like: This book is too pointy. When my toddler fell on this book, he scraped his cheek. I give it one star.
You need to know about being alone, about reaching into a popcorn bag in a second-run movie theater and never touching other fingers. When the movie ends, you walk through the doors into the audacity of so much sky, so much light. A flyer on a telephone pole reads: Do you miss singing? You take a picture of it, and the possibility of joining a choir recedes into the vastness of your camera roll, along with pictures of stray cats, of recipes you’ve never cooked, of your bare toes on sand on the first day of spring when there was light on the water and so much joy, spinning and shining from the tall, round room of your heart.

from Ekphrastic Challenge
March 2023, Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, G.G. Silverman: “The humor in the title grabbed my attention (I laughed out loud—well done!), then the poem took me on a gut-felt emotional journey, where the reader lives the mother’s anguish for her child’s well-being via wonderfully immersive, scenic lighthouse metaphors. I love how the imagery in the poem takes on a sensuous, dreamy blur toward the end, and we, as readers, become the lighthouse itself.”

Rattle Logo