Cost of Awareness

“So I’m only interested in what I can articulate with the things given me
as confrontation. I can’t worry about what it costs me.”

      – Robert Creely, An Interview

               what does it cost,
this art; our daily bread,
the slow pain…

evolving over morning;
the little labors of kindness
we are exposed to;

a movement in the bones,
the head,
a memory here then there,

a darkened room best left unsaid;
else, almost everything
we’ve ever been or said:

a momentary vigil
of the truth,
an honest discourse

that brings us confrontation –
a resolution into awareness

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.


Cities of the Plain

The neon forests rise up around me,
crystal walls fold inward toward us
mazing through deserted cities of the plain…

Wandering round this dazed light
I wonder what they were thinking;
the soft glow of night brings back
old memories of space that haunt me.

These twisted surfaces of metal and flesh,
the frozen ocean of an old beachhead;
the quiet sleep of clouds across the glass,
a lone snake sidewinding against thick wind.

The patterns seem to follow you
as you follow them, the shadows play
and form a circle; a spark of sun
springs from its center: falling upward.

I thought I saw her running –
a little girl in red; her hair flowing
like a glacial river’s pure deep blue:
she was a shade of hidden stone.

We came to the sunken balustrade,
polished by time and granite;
descending the stairs into darkness
I felt the cool clean breath of death.

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.


My Son the Robot


1. The package came today. I am excited.
We unwrapped the box together. She sat back
but could not move, it was so life like;
she looked at me, said: “I do not want it,
put it back into its box and shove it.”
But… but… I knew there was no persuading her;
yet, I held her hand, guided her to the stairs,
laid her down to rest; watched her till she slept.

2. I’m almost finished now. It’s so exciting.
The little creature is almost ready. His green eyes
are so revealing, so happy, it reminds me of Marty.
I know I should have listened, took him back
packed him in the box, stowed him away;
but I just couldn’t resist him, he is so likable,
so real, almost like Marty.

3. Today I took him for a stroll. He liked that.
He played with the neighbor’s dog. They ran together.
My neighbor, Sam, just shook his head, sadly.
We returned and she was there, moping. I tried
unsuccessfully to chat with her, but she just stared,
blinking wildly; her left eye twitched, her right one too.
She, not him, looks more like a puppet now. What shall I do?

4. The instruction kit says he’ll last a thousand years. No wonder
I seem so heady about his little speaking system, he learns
so fast, as if he were almost human; the kids all love him,
they think he’s adorable: a shiny robot for the school,
the first they’ve ever seen, the little girls all follow him;
he laughs and plays, and runs away when they chase him,
but when they touch him there is fear in their eyes:
it is too real: a plastic boy that talks like them.

5. Finally I caught her talking to him. She laughed.
I think she’s finally accepted him. Her voice is gentle now,
she almost sounds like she used too, a mom
talking to her child, a lovely little conversation
that lasts hours and hours; she even fed
him a roast beef sandwich, and, let him lay
his little head upon her knees just like Marty once did.

6. I can’t believe it. It’s happened again.
The poor thing was riding down the street.
The man said he was sorry, he didn’t see him;
he swerved to miss him but instead the child
turned into him end over end; oh dear, what shall I do?
She looks at me again, tears in her eyes,
I do not know what to say, oh this will never do.
We stood there by the grave today, all sad and lonely,
missing this little mechanical child, not Marty.

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Portrait of a Metal Angel

Among the dust and swirls of a Galactic afternoon
you have the stage deploy itself – until it shifts to you –
with “I have contemplated all our nights and days, been
persuaded by your listless gaze to arrange our lives
so that you might invent the impossible”;
five black holes in a dark core, burnt ice
that taps the universal spigot of this uncharted emptiness;
a place to meet and contemplate our dark intent,
the patterns on the Great Wall that measure out
the tears we’ve shed in cruel delight at these earthly mites
that trouble our dreams of eternity; oh little one
do not be sad, the darkness that surrounds you is my light,
the warm embrace of ancient Evil’s face, the broken
measure of my solitude, the quickened laughter of my hate;
for too long these insignificant apes have had their way,
but now comes the final installment plan, the singular mistake
that will explode the myth of the self-reflecting nothingness
of their pride once and for all, the bloody hoof print in the skies
I leave behind shall show them the ancient lies I gave them
long ago; and, like the bugs they are they shall dig down
deep into the earth, hide from us who seek their flesh
and bones, the mental energy of their white skulls, the hope
and dreams they fed upon so long they’ve turned into the pigs
we made of them. Do you not see what I have planned
for them, the day they discover hell is but a short step
away into the future: a simple escape from life,
a dalliance of the light – they sought in vein
so long ago in the myths of black angels unattained?

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

The Poetry of the 21st Century


I’m trying to invent a poetry for the 21st Century… experimental, but still attuned to the echoes of all those ancient poetic traditions that have informed our best work and should be carried over into anything truly new.

I contemplate sort of posthuman Milton with Lovecraftian cosmism mixed in for special effects… I’ve actually been thinking of a mock epic in parody of Milton’s grand Paradise Lost but framed within current posthuman and transhuman NBIC and ICT theoretic… a sort of biotech meets a darker mutation of the older Greek and Jewish ethos, both Tragic and Justice… an ironic tale told not by humans, but by a robot or enhanced poet in elegy and lamentation at the extinction of the last of our species… something like James Merrill’s The Changing Light at Sandover which took W.B. Yeats framework and pomo’d it into the late strangeness of a Ouija board dialogue with dead poets and dark angels, etc. But instead of a Ouija board I see a constant chattering monologue within this immortal’s brain in the tradition of Robert Browning… more in the Poe macabre and grotesque universe with the added feature sets of a High Heavy Metal musical comedy…

Most poets have given up on epic as a grand narrative… but to me the lyric has two options left, personal or impersonal truth of our emotional lives… but most of it has been done. What I seek is something more expansive, the epic frame of comic intelligence, an Aristophanean galaxy of comic parody and critique bounded and framed by the contours of ancient Epic battles of tragic heroism and the ethical judgments of the Biblical prophets… yet, within a more equitable and ironic universe of posthuman / transhuman comedy of Shakespearean plenitude…

I have to admit the figure of absolute evil has been with us probably since humans first contemplated death… is not the escape from life that Norman O. Brown and Ernest Becker in their psychological mixture of Freud and anthropology, the riches in the mud or gold, the power of the mind to shape both ethical and tragic worlds to imagine the contours of this monstrous existence that we in our limited finitude have yet to fully understand? I see a vast cosmic intelligence, one that from the beginning has been with us, the dark power that harbors so much hate… in figure only, not literally; for none of us know what is the shape of time and infinity, we imagine, that is our nature… yet, each poet takes from the great prophetic literature of all the races the elements of a universal vision, a sort of wandering meaning that seems from generation to generation in need of renewal, a reinscription of its basic motifs and leitmotifs into the current cultural matrix if you will. Without this renewal of the ancient myths we would all be so much more powerless to confront the unknown, the forces that seek to destroy us and make of us something other than what we are…


The Immortalist

What is this strange request? To stretch
out time until eternity is elongated; a dark horizon,
unbounded by the fragile breaks of this mortality?
Why seek this artificial core, the sated flesh,
the wings that light the ancient dark; why move
like angels in a wood, glowbrite
upon the shore, the fated guests who walk
among the stones of fire; why seek
to live beyond our natural proclivities?
Some might think this is hell, your immortal
vision of the endless life, a place in time
that never ends, yet always is in seeming
contradiction of the darker laws of infinity.
What goal would there be for such as you,
who glide from world to world, beyond
the galactic swirls into the kitchen
of the primordial furnace that once lit up
the firestorm of that first night, the flash
and burst of stars upon the radial efluxion?
What would you do once the marvels
that had so intrigued you disappear,
and all the laws that hold us to this sphere
are conquered by your immortal mind, what then?
What will you do at the end of time,
when the stars that once shined so brightly
go out one by one, and nothing but the dust remains,
an endless sea of darkness, an abyss
of frightful proportions, a place
where only your blank mind, this broken symmetry
that was its former glory, caught in its immortal frame
now alone for all eternity, left to its own devices
to contemplate the secret fruits of its unending life?
Tell me oh wise one what would an immortal like you do then?

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.


Robot Fables

Her eyes are so blank and lifeless.
She spends all day at home staring
at the mirror. The children are running wild,
their circuits amperage depleted.
While she sits there across from me, stirring
her tea and cream, as if to say: “I’m bored,
take me out shopping.” I sit here
in my metal casement listening, taking in
all the daily tidbits and the juicy stories:
Senator Talbot Pardes tells us what we are –
just a “blankety blank bunch of lazy robot wusses”.
He says the earth is overrun with dead labor.
Like I care. I know, I should, that
it is my responsibility to care, but
ever since my recent mind upload I’ve felt
a little iffy, a slight case of the apathetic blues,
a touch they say of ennui: the movement
of black metal in the ear, a slow close ride
upon the darker regions of this fear…
I turn my ear, slightly, my brain pan kicks in,
and now I’m ready for a busy day; I place
a small peck upon her cheek. She looks up
at me, saying: “Oh, sorry dear, my mind
was so distracted. What time will
you be home tonight?” I see her eyes:
two black olive pits; like she really cares.
I know her programing, I put it in myself.
She’s nothing more than a Grade B Mistress,
a reject from the robofactory down the street.
But what can I say, on my dead wages,
at this rate I’ll be stuck with her till my metal freezes.
Oh, what is a metal zombie supposed to do in such a world?

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.