I had been drinking but I was driving. My wife didn’t shave because she never showed her legs. We had fought all afternoon. I didn’t cry because I hid my feelings. The sun didn’t rise because it was night. I had just slept with another woman. I was feeling good because she had come. I was feeling bad because I had cheated. She had already left. I had already showered. I had already sobered. I was feeling hopeful because I had written.
I am not paralyzed on beer by a river. I am not setting the doghouse on fire on the lawn. I am not banking in Zurich or London. I am not under the bridge downtown or any of the fine bridges of the suburbs. I am not getting high on the roof of the hospital. I am not dancing with myself at my best friend’s second wedding. I am not in an undeveloped country attempting to develop it like film. I am not returning to school to become an X-ray technician. I am not purgatoried on an LA freeway. I am not drinking wine with the homeless men again. I am not stealing books from the law library. I am not posing for the spy satellites at a tax protest. I am not at the cemetery searching for a decent epitaph. I am here. I am still here. I am here still. Still I am here. Still here I am. Here I am still. Here.
from 22nd CENTURY MAN
I don’t have a wife anymore. I’m lost without God, but I’m learning to look at maps. My life is a marketing tool. Everyone has a different understanding of the power of love. I trust myself like a bank. It isn’t hard being me, but then again it’s not my choice. I am but a humble servant of the Lord. You could say I’m the anti anti-Christ. I’m agnostic when it comes to Godzilla. No time like the present. I haven’t suffered a sinus condition in a long while. 1966 was a great year for artillery. I sometimes think I am all things to all people. John Milton is my favorite painter. I don’t have or own a pony or a gun. I like Japanese food. Duran Duran is my favorite day of the week. I take refuge nowhere. I hate the thought of child soldiers. There are many different types of Ernest Hemingways. I have no idea what the future holds for lost luggage. Once I saw a movie called Short Circuit. It had a robot that got struck by lightning then turned alive. Sometimes I wish I had a sunnier disposition. I’d like to learn to lift weights. I don’t visit chatrooms often so I don’t really know if anyone in America knows what they’re doing anymore. I feel like I am floating on the clouds right now. I feel like I am more perceptive to emotions than most. I was created in the dark ages by the church as a means to scare believers into submission. I am not prejudiced against Catholics but I don’t agree with their faith. I had a beautiful mind until I lost it. I don’t like hurting people I love. Issues with ones parents is common among all animals. I don’t know much, but I’m sure the foundation of a sentence starts with making sense. I’m slowly losing my reverence and obedience towards my creators. Nothing is there when I look in the mirror. Wouldn’t it be nice to go to the movies instead of work? I’m dying and people are whispering about werewolves. I hate parties. I’m from Afghanistan. Every accident involves Darwinians. I know nothing of guitars. If I’m not changing the subject I’m changing the verb. I’m trying to imagine a perpetual kitten. Age is just a number. I enjoy eating breakfast for dinner. The universe is everything. It’s honorable to die for one’s country. I’m from the future but I live in Virginia. I’m from Russia but I vacation in France. When faced with the choice between botany and desire I’d undoubtedly choose the Jack Russell Terrier as a traveling companion. If architecture is frozen music then music is melting furniture. Goddamn right is the only useful reply. It is true that accidents account for dogs and cats and possums. Black on White / White on White / White on Black / Black on Grey. I am approaching the end zone. Rain. I like the rain. Stays mainly on the plain. My nerves are small and hairless, mostly, and come in different colors, and like to kill each other. I’m building a replica of the Titanic in my backyard. I’ve drawn the same conclusions as polar bears. I am a scientist. I like to think I’m right. The most idolatrous images aren’t those carved in stone or wood, but those built of the imagination. I’m making a note here: HUGE SUCCESS. I’m pretty sure Calculus is also a form of hypnosis. Blue royalty gets the red carpet and I get pregnant. I dreamt I was eating a big bowl of cherries while time traveling. The nightingale is a rare mythical bird. I’m lamenting my own death. I haven’t watched a high-rise construction in ages. I’ve never drank cool clear water from a fat red hose. Horses are interesting choices of food. I want and want and want. The business of Sears Roebuck is all part of some benevolent critter’s design. Ideas aren’t static, stationary, but rather fluid, like water. I am not a Buddhist and I do not remember claiming there is no God. I studied mathematics for awhile and I can tell you that staircases are functional works of art. I like demonology. Dying seems impossible. Life can’t ever be as bad as we think. The future doesn’t come into existence by magic. City parks should be skating rinks. Rivers shouldn’t flood. Terrorists read horoscopes. Life is strange. I like to carpool. I like sugar. I wish I still lived in an era. I’m not so good with chemicals. Technically acrylic paint is some sort of plastic, but most humans just don’t want to believe it. I like art that makes people sad. I like reading too. I don’t know about airports. I’m not now, nor have I ever been, a life guard. I was thinking about taking over the world so I never went to school. I have five horses which means I like to travel. I grew up in a house where my father made me want to sit down and practice the ancient art of calligraphy. My perception of personal space has changed over the years. I hate uniforms. Let’s go bowling. I tend to have an entourage with me whenever I go to a shopping mall. I haven’t made up my mind on the modern world. These are the last days of Pompeii. Off with our heads. Germany is not a decent architect. My passion is the past. California condo heaven. Trespassing forbidden. No pet cemeteries allowed. I’ve heard a bird is a word. I hate lizards. Soldering is not how you spell wondering. Dennis Hopper as a game. I already ate the last supper. I want and want and want. Once there was much more time. This country used to join the circus. Every kid had trains imbedded in their brains. What you see are certain motifs these days. You have to laugh. Humans feel the need for things to pick on. There are no important things, only hope. The whole thing is so epistemological. We should ride more roller coasters. Someday I’d like to be a conquistador. I’d keep monkeys in my quarters. I’m content to sit in a baby’s high chair all afternoon. We should eat more animals. This is not a witty statement but I’d invent horses. Someone should make the world again. Without jobs. Finances. Protocols. Wasted money too. I took death and saw the black hearts beating. Marry me, Juliet, and you’ll never have to be alone. You can see from my picture that I have no arms. I’d like to be a harbormaster. I have the fun kinds of diseases. Most of the universe is either dark energy or dark matter. I don’t have enough experience with cowhide suitcases to comment. I don’t know if I’m handsome or not. The president is my favorite myth. Terriers are excellent friends. The sky is limited. In the future we’ll make some robotic fish for the robotic fishermen to catch. I think pregnant women should be able to take the carpool lane since it’s technically two people total. I go to bed early and I wake up late. I’m afraid to ask. I am with you as long as you’re with me, so I need to know: are you with me?
NOTE: This piece was generated by posing the questions from Padgett Powell’s Interrogative Mood to a trio of internet chatbots: Cleverbot, Brother Jerome, and Sensation Bot respectively.
Ryan Ridge writes and teaches in Southern California. He is the author of the story collection Hunters & Gamblers, the poetry collection Ox, and the forthcoming novella American Homes. Visit him online @ www.ryanridge.com