Thursday, June 29, 2017

Artificial Intelligence












Artificial Intelligence (a found poem)

for Inspirobot

Before inspiration comes the slaughter.
Try to tell yourself you are not horrible.
Ensure that a stranger feels ashamed.
Hate your body. Not idiots. A bitch
loves everybody. Profit on your idols.
Fear a tiny person. Basing your everyday
on science creates loneliness. If you
want to get somewhere in life, you
have to try to be dead. Never stop
being weird. If you need to create friends,
you must become a thief. Recreational
drugs are there to strangle your full
potential. Lie to yourself. Don’t just
act naturally. Imagine that you are
obviously watched. The fact that you
are desperate doesn’t necessarily mean
you’re not self-deceptive. Having
an affair with your yoga instructor
can be fun if you cut your hair. All
you need to end world hunger is some
kind of bomb and an accident. Shut up,
follow your dream and reinvent the wheel.
Villain is just another word for misunderstood.
I like you is just another way of saying
take off your clothes. Passion is boring
to elitists. There is absolutely no reason
not to be erotic. How would the world
look if every human being found a way
To help ghosts? If you need inner peace,
don’t forget to close your eyes. Hate
love. Work more. Be honest. Or don't. 






Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pottery













Pottery

Your choices go unremedied. If only
we could repair the cracks in one’s life
using gold. Scintillas of precious metal
celebrating the struggle. The Japanese
do this with pottery. It feels sometimes
like we are suffering an epidemic of
indifference. Despite our little screens,
it is possible to see one another. I am
the one standing beside sunflowers,
or in the ad for unyielding desire. I am
drinking beer on a rooftop in Old
Montreal with friends while at a loft
party below someone gets famously
drunk, takes off her dress. The past
is what we remember, but also what is
diminishing in other rooms. The salt
in our blood seasons our aches. My
needs are infinite. I wish I could tell
you I am the only one in this poem,
but I have taken your pulse so stop
pretending you are not there. The
universe keeps racing in all directions
like nostalgia. Love’s velocity. Light
years of trial and error. Already these
lines are exposing the cracks between
a boy on a rooftop in the middle of
winter, and a man who treats his hours
like a waiting room. But what lovely
streaks of gold! The vessel is not words
but our lives. The sum of our worth.      

By Chris Banks

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Mid-life Action Figures















Mid-life Action Figures

My body feels made by Mattel.
There is no lifetime achievement
award for surviving emotional
trauma. Van Gogh cut off an ear,
went about his day. I don’t mean
to make light of suffering. My alma
mater tells me by phone they could
be doing better. Can I coat-check
this malaise? Talking to neighbours
feels like treading water. Similes
are passé. I need an electrician to
rewire my mood. Going to parties
when you don’t drink is open heart
surgery without local anesthetic.
I’ve completed all seven seasons 
but my knees are arthritic, and
my chakra is in shambles. I love
how business thinks innovation
is dreamt up in hotel bars and
conference rooms. Being forced
to take the arts package is what kills
creative embryos. My depression
is pure Suzuki method. I’m going
to open a Montessori school for
recovering addicts. Ever seen
a masterpiece wrapped in cellophane?
Go to your local record store,
dig around in the stacks. Maybe
the letter does not arrive on time
so you drink poison, or decide
to take up pole dancing. Either way,
someone’s parents end up crying.
Pull the string protruding from my back.
Listen to what I'm about to tell you.
There is not much time.

By Chris Banks
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Friday, June 9, 2017

Big Questions












Big Questions

Every child will tell you the big questions
are what is your favorite colour or how
old are you? Poetry still an amuse bouche
and not a tommy gun firing into the dark.
Break false totems. Remember wisdom
sprang from the head of a god. Questions
change with the decades, like how many
blackbirds flew out of that pie? Do ghosts
sleep? Why is there no thirteenth floor?
Will I get the credit, the job, the apartment,
yes or no? What is your sign? Briggs-Myers
type? Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers? Lou
Reed or David Bowie? How many attended
the wedding? The divorce?  To tweet or
not to tweet? Should I jiggle beauty’s lock
using only a paper clip? Does this skirt go
with my ennui? This tie with my exhaustion?
Should I be worried I no longer get ID’d
at restaurants? Twenty years on, why keep
making art? Swag or sparks? Is this puppy
show-quality or rescue? How do I love thee?
Does a honeycomb of doubts or assertions
produce a sweeter honey? A vale of soul-
making or a glen of happy sleep-walkers?
Who jinxed me? cries last year’s prom-queen
storming from the gymnasium. Air or water?
ponders the amphibian its whole entire life.
The big questions expand like black holes
and we hovering on their event horizon
rush towards them at the speed of light.

By Chris Banks

Friday, June 2, 2017

Merry Go Round













Merry Go Round


The decline of Western Civilization
is an after-taste easily washed away
with a sip of diet soda. The world’s
seeds stored in an Arctic stronghold
are ruined due to the permafrost
melting. I still love humanity, I do,
despite its addiction to money
and methamphetamines. When did
we stop building labyrinths and
rocket-shaped cars?  I’m broken
and still expected to make a speech
at the staff picnic. Clouds baptize
cattle with rain which is why people
eat them. Troy is forever burning
yet we all shop online. The search
and rescue party ran out of champagne.
Let’s toast to our disengagement!
So what if seabirds’ bellies are full of
plastic, they can fly to the lost isles.
My analyst thinks I’m perforated
with losses, my heart a sieve, but
I tell him I enjoy a good mash-up
as much as anyone. Joan Jett and
The Beatles. Guitar-solos are no match
for clean living. My fortune cookie
says go back to dangerous playgrounds,
steel merry-go-rounds, that feeling
of spinning and spinning and suddenly
flying off the face of the earth.

By Chris Banks

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Lady of the Lake














Lady of the Lake

Last summer, I sat by 
a lake in the Muskokas
at a friend’s cottage.
The Lady of the Lake
handed me a sword
for safe-keeping. 
pawned it for six
sadness-free months.
I stare at the sword
in the store’s windows
imagining me leading
an army to victory
against oppressors.
I ride a white horse
named Samson across
a field of dead soldiers.
The sword costs six
months of sadness
which I cannot afford
but already strangers
in the streets stop to 
pledge their allegiance 
to me. “I’m a tyrant,”
I caution. “We know,”
they say. “But at least
you're our tyrant."

By Chris Banks

Monday, May 22, 2017

Emergency Broadcast System












Emergency Broadcast System


The emergency is happening. Hide the Monets
and bottles of Lafite. Please exit the building
in an orderly fashion. We interrupt scheduled
programming to say public safety has been
breached. The emergency sits in our blind spot
so no changing lanes. Order the coq au vin
and crème brulee for it will be your last meal.
The conservatory is on fire. Please remain calm.
Authorities have been notified. They refuse
to go down with the ship. Write a letter to an old
university flame. Take a hatchet to your insecurities.
Start an argument with the night. This message
will repeat every sixty seconds. Think of it
as a ritual.  Make a circle in the middle of a room
linking arms, face outwards, with children
on the inside. The emergency goes unchallenged.
There will be no discounts. Stop torturing
yourself by appearing normal. Empty cash
registers and cages full of labratory animals.
Listen for foghorns. The emergency refuses
to be categorized as a natural disaster, a financial
meltdown, or spiritual bankruptcy. Put on a kimono.
Worry your forehead with fingertips. Tell yourself
you were not an accomplice to the current crisis.
I have a confession to make. This is not a recording.
The broadcast is inside you. What is your favourite
song? It will play next. The emergency is over 
the moment you understand spiders on ceilings
have nothing to do with Doomsday. Take a few
deep breaths. Your survival depends on it.


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By Chris Banks