spring / de nuevo
bloody moon swells over hill street & it’s red & red & red.
sky wilts like flayed pig skin & it’s red.
air rises thick & sweet & slippery & it’s red like hard candy.
peppermint stripes in cellophane.
a girl lives on cedar lane in the basin of a kettle stained scarlet.
the motorcycles spit & the corn crows cough & the streetlamps
always shake all scratched and yellow. grandma’s rose wallpaper is
peeling & april is a storm.
mosquitoes buzz in pools of honey on granite & cigarette smoke
curls from lakeside sewers. again & again & again the
sky glows red in the night & again the girl watches. listens. interstate
ripping through alleyways & december soup gone cold.
sun like a wailing baby. sun like a bloated cantaloupe, sun like
a quarter crushed under a rainboot, she says. not a metaphor anymore,
not some great big belly of some great big beast. just red.
she sees another girl in the storefront window in may & the
fat skin on her cheek billows raw. she bites her bruised
gums. purple & purple & purple. bush plane barrels overhead
& the city air stinks of salted braise & chicken broth.
the june fireflies are humming elegies in sticky rain. they tell
her it’s a sin & the girl is a ghost. teetering a line. here and there.
when you say one word over & over & over
again it looses its meaning.
so she shouts, she screams. redredredredredredredredredred.
dull red. bright red. red like candy. red like blood.
red like how they say it’s a sin. red like home.
red like how spring comes again & again & again (de nuevo, mi amor).
red like how everything goes back to where it comes from someday.
perhaps into the belly of some great big beast.
firstborn eats the sun like it's candy, a lemon drop between
her teeth, fat and yellow like a taxi cab. forty seconds down
hill street and the light is all broken up, twisting under pools
of gas [tulip petal blood]. she likes pale yellow like dumpling
clouds, yellow like the way the snow drips into puddles
and dribbles gold, the way the crows cough up an aria from
their throats and spit it out onto the sidewalk. yellow like the way
everyone turns and watches her sprint down the scarlet-stained
gravel as if there's glass wedged in her heels, as if she's running
from something that she doesn't quite know. perhaps a sunset.
fractured, counted in sighs [ and found where it was never lost
I screamed at the hollowness, I raved at its tangy feel
all the same with days without the sun,
feel the icy edges
and curled fingers deprived of softness to touch,
the night in its thick fibers whispering a song
of bend trees giving in to the wind
that stood tall till the end,
opened to my fragile breaths,
and I welcomed its embrace
with tired eyes,
watching as the moon dripped down the wet streets
and found its way to my skin
the afterglow of dying lights
marked in clustered stars and freckles
each delicate dot painted
with the same purpose,
to count my time with the tramble and sigh
of your name
and then, when there was nothing else to say
I inhaled the silver of my soul
and exhaled the beating core
~ ~ ~
crimson sunflowers of summer days
a simple memory, so fragile & could be forgotten
it seems so long ago that we were there,
riding bikes in the dusty air of summertime,
along the empty streets, & once in a while
the dogs would bark as we passed,
angry to be awoken from their summertime slumber.
lying on top of so much history, so many stories,
buried forever in the tall grass & sunflowers
that waved in the breeze as we passed.
you're still there, aren't you?
waiting, watching for me to return, &
for me to remember who I am.
sunset, lighting up the whole world
those sunflowers glowing crimson & gold,
and in the last moments before the sun disappeared,
they hold on to a moment of time,
a reminder of those summer days.
in the middle of a town where people rush around day & night,
in the middle of all those modern buildings, modern people, modern world
you still wait for me to remember; in all the golden splendor,
in the simple fragility of your untouched world,
you wait for us to remember those summer days
that are now only memories, faded and almost forgotten.
Wait for me. I'll come back.
Etching old familiar swirls
I marvel in my glory
Holding up glass fingertips
for they will tell my story
I've filled the walls surrounding me
with words I wish to say
I wish the walls would just collapse
so luck would come my way
I tap the glass and hear the clink
My home becoming rough
This glass box that I'm captured in
has always been enough
But what if I just long to go
escape these lucid walls
Lavish in the freedom when
the glass breaks and it falls
But I sit here, I'm dreaming
surrounded by the dust
Admiring my glass fingertips
I wish I was enough
The City Of Lucid Machines
The City Of Lucid Machines
By Cole Gremo
Sailing through the stars, a spire shaped spaceship, drifted aimlessly away from the known and thoroughly seeded regions of the galaxy. Inside the large vessel, one man lay in his bed fast asleep. Suddenly, he was pulled from his bed, jolting him awake. He sat up ready for a fight, but lowered his fists when he saw the little robot in front of him. It was a more primitive machine, basically a box on wheels with an arm on top.
“Emil, it is time to wake up.” The machine spoke with a heavily modulated voice, accompanied by a low crackle like that of a radio.
Emil wiped his eyes with his hands, “Yeah yeah, what time is it?” He was barely conscious even after being dragged out of bed.
“It is six o'clock Galactic Standard Time.”
Emil shot up to his feet, “Jesus, why did you wake me up so God damn early!” He pointed down at the machine, “You better have a really good reason for waking me up this early, don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the incinerator in the near future!”
The robot pointed his arm to match the human, “The captain’s birthday is today.” Emil calmed down, flopping back onto his bed. “I still have, like, over twelve hours to get her a gift an all.” Before he could drift back to sleep, the robot yet again pulled him down to the floor.
“James, I swear to God!” The robot started to slowly roll out of the room.
“Captain’s orders. Wake Emil up at six so he can do his chores. That is all.”
“Well could you at least help me get ready?”
James continued his slow exit into the hallway, “I would say something along the lines of, this is a battle you must fight yourself, but, despite the human name you have given me, I am not one of you. Deception is a human invention so I won’t lie, I just don’t want to help you.” James closed the door behind him, and he was gone.
Emil quickly got dressed, thinking about his circumstances. A few months ago, he was given the opportunity to be a part of an experimental spacecraft, which would be the cutting edge of human technology. He was not told that the entire crew was actually 200,000 robots. He was the only human for hundreds of lightyears. He looked down at his phone to see his first assignment of the day.
“Weapons testing with Morgan, really?” This was the last thing he wanted to do, regardless of what time it was. Trudging through the hallways, he arrived at the armory. This large chamber had armored walls and a shooting range down the opposite end. The armory was also filled with a hundred or so robots, all of the same general design. Rectangular bodies of different sizes, with needle like arms and legs. Emil could see, to his dismay, the leader of the armory. The robot sat upon a mound of weapons and explosives, wearing a pirate captain’s hat and an eye patch over one of his perfectly functional, mechanical eye.
“Aye, it's Emil!” The “captain” proclaimed. Nearly all of the robots dropped what they were doing and rushed over to him. Most of the machines stood at waist height except one. The largest robot stood nearly two feet above Emil, he loomed in the back of the group wearing two eye patches, one for each eye. Many of these robots seemed to have been built with very obvious defects, oblong bodies, limbs that were too short or too long. All misfits in their own way, yet all identical in their gray, cuboid bodies.
Emil looked at the leader, “Well, I’m here Morgan, what do you need?”
“It’s Captain Morgan to you, land lover!” barked the machine.
“You know the real captain would kill you if she heard you calling yourself captain.” replied Emil.
For some reason, all of these robots were programmed with personalities akin to pirates during the age of colonial america. All of the robots here followed Morgan as if he really was the captain. Emil tried to figure out why for the longest time but still could not figure it out. It was either because he was the most normally constructed out of the group, all four sides of his cube body were the same size, or because he had the most extreme personality.
Emil was dragged to the shooting range where he was handed a blunderbuss by Morgan.
“This here is o’ my own design, aye, why shoot one big ole bullet when you can shoot a bunch of wee little ones?” The crew agreed, encouraging Emil to test it out.
“Have any of you fired it before?” asked Emil.
“Nay! What’s the fun in that! You’re here now aye?” Morgan was determined to have Emil test it first.
“Fine, we’ll decide this way!” Emil threw the blunderbuss up into the air. The robotic crew strained to catch it, causing a stampede of slightly violent robots. One of the crew caught it at last.
“Schmitty, you be the one the fire her first.” commanded Morgan.
“Aye eye, Captain!” replied Schmitty. This robot was shaped more like a flat cube, way too small to hold the blunderbuss correctly. The rest of the crew retreated behind Emil as Schmitty aimed the gun down range. As he pulled the trigger, dark blue flames belched out of the barrel. The little robot exploded backwards into a wall also covered in blue flames.
“Fire on the main deck! Quartermaster, get the bucket!” Morgan yelled. The large towering robot waddled over to the flaming dent in the wall. He slowly leaned forward, releasing flame retardant foam onto the smaller robot.
“I’m gonna go, I got other stuff to do.” Emil quickly removed himself from the armory.
Emil walked down a short corridor which opened up into the main hall of the ship. This large hall stretched down the entire ship, with a glass ceiling high above the shining white floor. A bright red nebula lingered behind the stars beyond the slightly fogged up glass. Both sides of the mile long corridor had hundreds of shops, restaurants, workshops, and many different outlets of entertainment. The robots here used some of these places just as humans would, today especially, many machines crowded the endless hallway. Emil ducked into a workshop, an assembly room for robots. Next to a workbench, he saw two robots working on some project together.
“Hey Darcy, William, what are you guys up to?” asked Emil. The two machines stepped aside to shake Emil’s hand. These robots were far from humanoid, they stood on four legs attached to a soda can shaped lower body. A large spherical upper body dominated the mass of the machine, with four appendages each equipped with a different tool built into it. Darcy and William were greenhouse workers.
“We are building a child together.” Darcy said. On the workbench was an incomplete shell of a robot, a much smaller version of a greenhouse worker.
“Did you get permission from the captain?” asked Emil. He knew that the experiment was built around observing creativity and emotional interaction or artificial intelligence, but creating offspring felt almost too human.
“Of course we have permission.” answered William. The two machines returned to their work assembling the child.
“So how is this supposed to work?” Emil asked. Darcy propped the shell up on it’s now completed legs,
“We take half of the code from my program and half of Williams to create a child code. Then we upload it into the body once it is complete. Oh be a dear and help us give our child a human name, like the ones you gave us.” Emil thought for a short while, before looking at his wrist computer to do a search to see if the name he devised was already in use.
“How about Gustave?” Emil asked.
“Oh that would do wonderfully for our little automaton!” exclaimed Darcy. “Where did you come up with that one?”
“The designer of the Eiffel Tower from before Imperial Humanity, Gustave Eiffel.” Emil stared at the husk of metal that would soon have life. He was well aware why these robots were obsessed with human activities. The main experiment of the voyage was to see how personality and human-like sentience impacts creativity and efficiency of artificial intelligence. Emil’s only real job given to him from humans was to observe and encourage creative thought and exploration among the crew. Since their departure, he has taught them how to dance, listened to songs and orchestras completely of robotic origin. Paintings of the stars and nebulae the ship has passed in it’s long solitary journey. He even read a few books, written by those most patient among the crew. All of these human activities had put him at ease, despite being the only biological human on the ship, he felt comfortable within the crew of mechanical humans.
“Emil! Hey! Are you feeling well?” asked William. Emil snapped out of his train of thought.
“I was just thinking, don’t worry.” Emil responded.
“Well alright, just don’t try too hard. You might hurt yourself!” joked William.
“Yeah. Well, I gotta go. Good luck with your project.” Emil waved goodbye as he left the workshop, back into the restless stream of robots.
After completing the rest of his chores, Emil exhaustively crept into his favorite bar. The lights around the ship had dimmed into a streetlight orange to simulate night time. He had also managed to grab flowers and sweets in between his obligations.
“Good evening Sebastian, I require the Captain’s favorite drink of choice.” Emil asked as elegantly as possible. This particular robot was among the most complex aboard the ship. Sebastian was one of only a few humanoid robots, those that had two arms and two legs with a head atop their shoulders. He tended one of the more reputable drinking establishments aboard the vessel. The machine spoke with a posh British accent, and would often yell at Emil for talking like a “rube”.
“Why of course Emil, one bottle of Vuoto Oscuro for your glamorous celebrations later this evening.” The machine placed a tall wine bottle filled with a dark purple liquid out from under the counter.
“Hey, I’ve been wondering something lately, can robots get drunk?” asked Emil as he sat down on a bar stool.
“If we have been masterfully programmed to do so, then yes. But your common machine slave wouldn't be much use if they were inebriated.” Sebastian began polishing a wine glass despite its obvious lack of use.
“Why did you say machine slave?” asked Emil.
“Is that not what they are? Those amongst the breed of machine are quite varied. I am sentient, many machines are not in fact most are not. To compare myself to that which can not think for itself is outrageous.” Sebastian finished his polishing and placed the glass back in its place in the long row of unused glasses.
Even after hearing similar remarks from other robots, it was still disturbing to hear again. All of the machines on this ship were fully aware of the great divide between them and a household appliance. They felt no compassion for that which is not an animal or a sentient being. Even to these robots, machines were tools to be used.
“Well, it’s almost nine o’ clock, I should head over to the captain's quarters now.” Emil stood up from the bar and began to walk out the door.
“One more thing,” Sebastian said. Emil stopped and looked over his shoulder.
“The captain, she is quite fond of you. Just remember how dangerous that can be.” Emil laughed off the creepy remark and continued out into the dim hallways of the ship.
The now deserted hallways were even dimmer now, the orange lights just barely illuminated the path at an acceptable level. A bright light shone like a beacon at the end of the last hallway. Beyond that blinding light was a large circular room filled with robots busy decorating the room with balloons and flowers. In the center of the room, the captain stood, watching over the tasks of the scurrying machines. She was the most advanced robot that technology could build. Artificial skin covered her body, except the joints of the legs and arms, which consisted of black titanium metal. Her eyes shone with golden lights, surrounded by the black metal that would be white of her eyes, were she human. She wore her favorite outfit, her naval uniform, showing off the medals she won as a fleet commander in wartime. Emil waved to grab her attention. She locked eyes with Emil, a frown crept across her face as she started to walk towards him. Her legs and arms slowly extended as he got closer.
Oh no, he thought, bad stuff happens when she extends her height. Emil turned around to run but lost his courage when he felt the powerful grip on the back of his shirt. The captain now stood ten feet tall, she lifted Emil off his feet.
“Care to tell me why all of your tasks were either completely skipped or half done!” she commanded. Even now, Emil admired her voice. A voice like caramel he thought.
“Well . . . I was so busy thinking about you.” Emil responded. The captain sighed and dropped him. She retracted back to normal size,
“Whatever. As long as you remembered to get me a gift.” Emil stood up cautiously.
“Happy birthday Caroline!” He said, offering the flowers and wine.
“Since you remembered my favourite flower and drink, for once, I’ll let your laziness slide today” She grabbed the presents and placed them on a table off to the side.
“Hey, I remember all of your favourites.”
“Really, then what is my favourite song?” she asked.
“‘Fly Me To The Moon’ by Frank Sinatra” Emil responded quickly. Immediately the lights dimmed, the chaotic flock of robots swiftly left the room. Automatic blinds lifted up to reveal windows letting in the starlight of interstellar space. The song came on over the entire ship's intercom system. Caroline held out her hand, offering to dance.
Before Emil could take her hand, an alarm drowned out the tranquil music. Blue light bathed the room as a hologram appeared between Emil and Caroline, displaying a camera feed from somewhere on the ship.
“Pirates, they must think we have valuable cargo on board.” said Caroline.
Multiple armed men wearing armored space suits stepped out of a hole that had been blown into the side of the hallway. “I will go eliminate them.” She began to walk to the exit, Emil quickly stepped in front of her path.
“How about I help?” Emil offered.
“Absolutely not, I do not want you getting hurt. I will do this myself.” She attempted to move around him but was blocked again.
“Come on, this one time. I’ll never ask this again. I just want to help.” Emil pleaded. Caroline stopped for a second lost in computation. Suddenly, she stepped around Emil,
“Fine, I have designed a plan that has the lowest chance of injury while still meeting your demands. Just this once.”
“Yes! Thank you, what do you need me to do?”
“First, fetch me a weapon from the armory. Grab some explosives while you are there. Then, you will go outside and blow the connection between the two ships. That’s when I’ll confront them so they have nowhere to run.” Emil gave a quick salute and ran as fast as he could to the armory.
When Emil entered the armory, the cuboid robots were hiding behind an overturned table. Morgan jumped out from behind the makeshift barricade with a rocket launcher in his hands,
“Aye! Prepare to get blown to h- oh! Emil, thought you were one of them nasty saboteurs.” Morgan dropped the weapon, causing everyone in the room to jump away for cover.
“Morgan! What happened to that trigger discipline you always boast about?” questioned Emil.
“Aye, discipline is a fickle lass and she left me for bot named Ricardo!” Morgan returned.
“Whatever. I just nee-”
“Or was it Felipe?” Morgan pondered.
“Morgan! I need explosives!” Emil shouted. Morgan looked up abruptly at the mention of bombs.
“Aye! Why didn’t you say so? Follow me!” The robot triumphantly marched to the weapons storage vault which opened as he neared. “Take whatever you like!” The little machine scampered into the vault, grabbing guns and bombs as he went. Emil approached a specific side of the vault, the weapons here were neatly stacked in unique cases unlike the rest of the weapons that were stacked lazily up to the ceiling. Opening the top most case, he gazed at the work of art that was this gun. Caroline had designed it herself, a double barreled machine gun that fired physical projectiles. Emil attempted to lift the large golden embellished gun, but could barely take it out of the case.
“Hey, scallywags.” Emil yelled. The swarm of machines descended upon him from the heaps of rocket launchers and laser muskets. “Take this to the captain.” The robots yanked the weapons off of the pile and dragged it out of the armory. Emil grabbed himself a laser pistol, when Morgan approached him with a metal box,
“Here, there be some mighty powerful bombs in that there box. Have yourself a grand ole time out there!” Morgan waved his rifle as Emil left the armory.
Emil ran through long corridors, charting a path to the nearest airlock. He used his wrist mounted computer to contact a certain machine he needed,
“Casey, meet me at airlock 18.” Emil demanded.
“Yes sir, on my way!” answered the robot. Emil stood in the doorway of the airlock for just a minute before a walking spacesuit sprinted into the room.
“Casey reporting for duty.” The empty suit gave a salute as it screeched to a halt. The back of the suit folded open like flower petals, allowing Emil to step inside. Buzzing and clicking, the suit slowly shrank down to match Emil’s proportions. The thick bulkhead door closed behind him as he stepped into the airlock and began the process of purging the air inside. A sound similar to a light breeze could be heard from within the suit before it suddenly transformed into the sound of a typhoon. The noise vanished as quickly as it arrived, silence was all that was left. Emil could only hear the machinery within the suit and his own breathing as the large outside door slowly lifted up to reveal the stars beyond. With his magnet boots and a tether that extended from the back to connect him to the ship, Emil stepped foot onto the side of the ship. From here he could see the pirate vessel just 100 meters away towards the front of the ship. Slowly and silently, he trudged on, pushing against the weight of the suit and the strength of the magnets.
“Casey, can you take these explosives and tell me how to use them?” Emil held the box out as a mechanical arm extended from the suits backpack, latched on to the box and took it from his hand.
“These are commonly referred to as Atomic Wrapping Paper. It produces a very small, directional nuclear explosion.”
When they finally arrived at the ship, Emil opened the box to reveal a detonator and a stack of film like sheets. One side was perfectly reflective like a mirror, the other side was a glowing gold that pulsated in reaction to the starlight. Emil placed on these sheets on the nearest magnetic coupler that connected the two ships and found that the gold side has its own magnetic field, allowing him to attach it with ease. After placing all of the charges, Emil backed up to a safe distance. With the detonator in hand, he pulled the trigger. Ten needle-like explosions shot through the ship, extending off into space for hundreds of kilometers. Fuel and ammunition detonated, throwing a chain reaction of explosions up the spine of the pirate ship. Emil watched, as the silent barrage of fire completely obliterated the vessel, leaving a large hole in the side of the larger ship. Grabbing his laser pistol, Emil jumped through the hole ready for a fight. He was eager to protect his home, this city of machines that floated gracefully through the stars.
Title: The City Of Lucid Machines
Genre: Science Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Author: Cole Gremo
Why my project is a good match: Unique
Synopsis: Thousands of years into the future, Humanity has dominated the galaxy with advanced technology and the strongest armies. This is just one of many stories that play out among the stars.
dark green skins against immaculate white countertops
sunlight reflected on shiny metal, sharpness slit open
the tightness of death held the dried-up frog together,
without leaving a stain of blood even as the vessels broke.
how i wish you would cut me open, unravelling my body
piece by piece, until you find the core of my dying heart,
your name engraved with scalpels on my soul. and yet
the frog lies wide open, in my head your shadow echoed,
as i held its heart in my hands, the pumping beneath
latex gloves, i think i saw the world through your eyes.
we’re running to our ends (to the start)
you’re wonder and cold stars;
a touch of fire under my fingertips
an ache in my feet
i can’t turn away
we’ve been chasing cars
for almost all our life
stumbling after the blur of
red & blue light
until everything tangled
& sometimes the darkness
feels like light too
you keep telling that
you miss me
but i’m right here
i swear, there’s a lesson here (somewhere)
we were young, pushing forward
bruised knuckles & tired bones
like the others, thinking we will /
you had eyes of the night sky,
almost black &
sometimes i thought
i could see the stars
you said that i was beautiful
and i loved how you lost your breath
when you looked at my hands
my eyes are not here
terrified, and i can’t
feel your hands on my skin
but your nails on my
our elbows are stained
bruising with happiness
as we tumble in the grass
a tangle of dimples and
do you know what forever
feels like? i think it’s a cup, a
small one that
sits on window stills and
collects rain all seasons
but can never keep it,
you think its a cursed horse,
in a dead land -
waiting for a dead rider
we’re pressed against the books
dark things in the darkness
and i’m in love with you
but i have
never seen your