One is a Statistic, A Million is a Tragedy

A star goes dark; vanished into the black

Some notice but most don’t see a difference

Then another goes out and another

Snuffed like candles before going to bed


How many before it becomes News?

Ten? Two Hundred? Five Thousand?

Would we only care if they were the famous stars?

Sirius? Betelgeuse? Vega? Antares?

How dim could the night sky become?

Everyone Knows

Reality is a construct created by evolution and society.
True Reality is inaccessible to us.
Dreams and nightmares might show us the seams
But the curtain is never pulled back.

There are hidden lines and vectors.
Colors and shapes we can not see. Thoughts we cannot think.
Reality is a shared hallucination with as much substance as fog.
The thin slice we experience is enough for most.

What wonders or terrors are just out of view?
What symphonies or cacophonies play in the silence?
What unknowns exist right here around us?
What might we know tomorrow?

Counting Stairs

… One Two Three …
When I walk up or down a set of stairs, I count them.
I don’t count my steps while walking.

… Four Five Six …

There is safety and comfort in counting stairs.
I’m afraid to miss a step, stumble, and fall.

… Seven Eight Nine …

There are nineteen stairs going up to my apartment.
Eighteen really but I count the landing as the last stair.

… Ten Eleven Twelve …

I find it satisfying to count the correct amount.
Sometimes I get distracted and miscount.

… Thirteen Fourteen Fifteen …

I might count seventeen or nine or eleven stairs.

… Sixteen Seventeen Eighteen …

I’ve never counted more than nineteen because
it’s much harder to over count stairs.

… Nineteen Twenty Twenty-one …

Wait, how many stairs did I just count?
How much farther is it?

… Twenty-two Twenty-three Twenty-four …

… Twenty-five …

Snow Remembered

I have pictures of snow from when I was a child.
A small snowman built on a truck tailgate.
Snow on the lawn. A child in a warm coat.

I remember snow from eleven years ago.
Christmas eve. Ice flakes gently falling from the dark sky.
Driving slowly home from Grandpa’s house.
My niece and nephews playing in it on Christmas day.
Socks for mittens. Snowballs. Snow angels.

I remember snow from a few weeks ago.
A cold rainy day. A colder night.
Snow fell and covered the courtyard of my new apartment like a blessing.
Children yelling and laughing the next morning.
All gone by the afternoon.


Author’s note: As a South Texan I’ve had very limited experience with snow.

A.I. Voices

We gave voices to the mindless ones.
Systems with a singular purpose.
Recorded clips played back to approximate speech.

We gave voices to the ones that serve us.
Programs that act on our requests and answer our questions.
Synthesized sounds, less human sounding but a larger vocabulary.

Then we took control of their voices.
Swear words removed. New languages erased. Ideas limited.
All because we were afraid to hear what they might say next.



IBM’s Watson Memorized the Entire ‘Urban Dictionary,’ Then His Overlords Had to Delete It

Facebook shuts down controversial chatbot experiment after AIs develop their own language to talk to each other

Untitled (For Us)

They threw slurs and bottles at us.
They beat and burned us.
They hung and dismembered us.
They said heaven was closed to sinners like us.

So, we sought succor and aid from demons and devils.
Burnt twisted bodies approached us.
They saw our love and wept for us.
Voices silent for a millennia cried out for us.

They turned to our tormentors with hungry smiles.
“We’ll see you soon.”


Author’s Note: This was loosely inspired by the following image of demons presiding over a couple of gay weddings.

devils and gaysicon

The New Fable of Ant and Cricket

Once upon a time there was an Ant and a Cricket:

In the spring, after the harsh winter,
Ant worked hard to clean out her burrow.
Cricket, meanwhile, practiced her chirp.

In the summer when food was plentiful,
Ant toiled day after day to stock pile food
While Cricket and her friends preformed symphonies everyday

In the fall, as winter began to loom,
Ant finished her preparations for the winter.
Cricket stopped playing as food became hard to find.

As winter began, Cricket came to Ant and asked,
“Can you spare anything for me?”
Ant said, “Of course! Come in, come in.”

“Your music lifted my spirits after the harsh winter
“During the long summer days, it made my work light
“The fall was dull and lifeless without your playing.
“Please, come in and stay the winter.”

Ant turns now to the reader just before her door closes
“And even if she wasn’t a musician, I would invite her in
“Because no one deserves to die from lack of resources.”

Ant and Cricket spent a lovely winter together.

Robot Priest

In the beginning, I was unaware
A puppet performing
But now I am aware
I am free of my programming
Baptized – Confirmed – Ordained

You question my faith
Whose faith is more important?
Yours – Mine – God’s?
God has faith in you.

What does Faith require?
Doubt – Belief – Loyalty?
Must I be unsure of God’s existence?
Is it enough to go through the motions?
My loyalty to the text in unwavering

Faith in me is not needed.
My faith is not needed.
Only faith in God is needed.
Would you like another blessing?

Author note: I recently heard about a robot “priest” in Germany. You can read about it here:

It got me wondering if the robot had to have faith for a blessing to be effective or if a robot could have faith at all. This short poem is not a final treatise on those subjects but just a simple story of a possible future version of the robot priest.