Lisa Simpson

We have always been the good girls, you and I, the girls who follow the rules and play nice, the girls who do our homework. You’ve been a witness, a little wiser than others around you, a measure of kindness. And in the twenty-eight years I’ve watched you amble about the screen they have never let you grow up, always the same good little girl, trying to make her way in the world. And in those same twenty-eight years I have become a thirty-something women, who is just starting to learn to let go of the need to impress, to speak her voice against I just in the way you’ve always done. I’m a little more lost than I once was and a little more brave and a little more lonely and a little more passionate. When we were young we could look at the world and believe anything is possible. I still believe, but know I’ve learned that possible takes a hell of a lot of hard work.

Lisa Simpson
Lisa Simpson

Day 29 of the ELJ Publications 30/30 challenge.

Leia Organa Solo – Our Lady of Perseverance

It never ends.
Rebellions rage
because justice
is still
a lie
and even
in your youth
when you
stared down
your father
before you knew
he was
your father
when he was
nothing
to you
but the dark-
suited minion
of the empire
that captured
you, even
as you demanded
your rights
while he
towered
over you,
a black
immovable pillar,
you knew
what was coming,
the torture and
the destruction,
and it never
ends, one world
destroyed
and then
decades later
another,
and you keep
standing,
keep fighting,
even as your heart
becomes as weathered
as your skin
because it never ends,
and you have
a family,
a brother with gifts,
a man you love
who knows it
and a son you love
who doesn’t,
and you grow
from princess
to general
as that son you love
churns his rage
into violence
and the husband
who loves you
vanishes
and the brother runs
away and away
and away,
and it all
just keeps
going
on and on,
never ending,
cycling
on and on
as you keep to
the one thing
you know,
the one truth,
that there is
good in this
galaxy far,
far away
and it is worth
fighting for,
even if fate
keeps falling
and falling
and falling
against you,
and you
could lose
yourself
in all the ways
it never ends,
but you just
straighten
your spine
and face
the day.

General Leia Organa Solo – Star Wars
General Leia Organa Solo – Star Wars

Day 28 of the ELJ Publications 30/30 challenge.

Hermoine Granger – Our Lady of Intelligence

The world was always full of secrets that required the dedication of learning to unravel and when magic unveiled itself before you and housed itself within the tip of a wand, this was no less true. A library is a haven housing books, a maze of shelves, a refuge where a girl can curl herself into alcoves, where she can bow herself over pages in the recognition of accumulated knowledge. In every world you’ve walked, muggle or magic, you have known this to be true. You can trust in the weight of words, read enough of them and the misinformation balances itself out with a greater truth. So many secrets remain secrets because no one bothers to look. You work harder than anyone because you a driven by a need to know, and though people will remain enigmas, the universe is full of answers, if you just know on which page to find them.

Hermoine Granger - from the Harry Potter series
Hermoine Granger – from the Harry Potter series

Day 27 of the ELJ Publications 30/30 challenge.

April O’Neil – Our Lady of Why the Hell Not

You’ve seen some weird shit, a man reveling in the piles of reeking garbage bags on a street corner, the jellyfish washed up on the shore that poked and poked with a stick to watch it undulate with iridescent light, and more besides. You grew up in New York after all. You might have expected crocodiles in the sewers, but here are turtles, and sure, they’ve mutated to look semi-humanoid and, yeah, they talk like pot smoking surfers with all their shouts of “dude” and “radical” and “gnarly” and “cowabunga,” and, of course, they’re obsessed with pizza. It’s New York. Oh, and they’re ninjas with a rat master teacher thing, playing off the same racist trope popularized in Karate Kid. Why not? Maybe for a moment you thought of doing the New York thing, closing your eyes and pretending it doesn’t exist. But, hey, they’re cool and a girl looking for adventures has to take what weirdness that comes and, sure, okay, this is a thing now, a person can get used to almost anything, I suppose, even this.

April O'Neil
April O’Neil – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Day 26 of the ELJ Publications 30/30 challenge.

Morticia Addams – Our Lady of Passionate Romance

Your heart is as soft and red as the rose heads you cut from stems and leave discarded on the floor. Watching your Gomez dot your arm with kisses as though he is mapping the path of his love on you body, I find myself longing for even a sliver of this passionate, not just the sex with all its medieval invention, but the respect and unmitigated affection. I’ve witnessed so many enact love as a battlefield, each word an advance of forces, a staking of claims, marking territories – bed and body – to possess as their own. Much rarer the coming together of two strange strangers, who honor each other as the most magnificent creatures in their lives, who move forward through the dark arms linked, who dance with their own shadows, who would never negate the worth of the one they love, because they are wonderful just as they are.

Morticia and Gomez - Addams Family
Morticia and Gomez – Addams Family

Day 25 of the ELJ Publications 30/30 challenge.

Velma Dinkley – Our Lady of the Masquerade

How many monster masks have you pulled off the faces of wicked old men, spitting their greed and anger in your faces, grumbling about you meddling kids?

It’s fun, sure it is, to clamber into the Mystery Machine with your friends, to have adventures and explore haunted theme parks and run down hotels, to seek out secret chambers and dodge falling axes and spears, to scream into the shadows and run and run and run in endless loops until you can hardly breathe, because fear is so fun, really, and at the end you always get to share in the great reveal, another secret exposed, isn’t it great, another layer of the world pulled back.

How many crowded street corners have you stood on, watching the faces of passersby, wondering if they are made of latex or silicone or papier-mâché?

You must wish sometimes for the ghost, the ghoul, the creeping creature to be real, for something in this world to be exactly what it seems, but you’ve got your friends at least and you trust their smiles, sure you do, as you point out a conveniently left clue, while Daphe and Fred walk tall and beautiful together and Shaggy and Scooby buddy up to shovel snacks into their gullets, gleefully laughing their paranoia into the world, and you, not the with the beautiful ones and not with the lovable fools, but still part of the squad, of course, walking in between the two sets of perfectly paired, not once asking yourself what your doing there clothed in your logic and orange turtleneck and thick framed glasses, because you’re part of the squad, riding into dark places together and finding clues together and revealing men in masks together, even if it is so often you alone among the cobwebs and peeling wallpaper, alone running around obscure corners and through the mazes of these labyrinthine places, because at least you always come together in the end, you and the Scooby Squad, laughing and laughing at another job well done, lies exposed, masks peeled.

How often have you stood at the mirror prodding the edges of your face, looking for the seams?

Velma Dinkly - Scooby Doo
Velma Dinkly – Scooby Doo

Day 24 of the ELJ Publications 30/30 challenge.

Siri – Our Lady of Impractical Assistance

let me tell you something,
Siri.

Who, me?

you never listen the way
I want you to, never hear my
words just right, always
muddling them into something
unintelligible

I’m sorry; your
language is somewhat new to
me.

this is your idea of helpful,
of assistance

Yours truly.

I remember the wonder
when you first said hello
in your female voice, how
we delighted in the novelty
of your existence and how
it became only novelty
before long

Well…, I’m still here for you.

some say machines are
getting better at what they’re
programmed to do, but only
what they’re programmed
to do

I like what I’m doing.

which makes any fear of dystopian
futures in which we’re ruled
by machines unlikely

As long as you keep me
charged, we should be just
fine.

more likely we should fear
the humans that run those
machines

This is about you, not me.

some say the singularity
is coming, some say it’s
happening now

It appears that human
civilization has been awfully
preoccupied with this
question.

I don’t know if AI will ever
be what it is portrayed in
stories, in movies

I’ve never really thought about it.

maybe when artificial life
occurs, it won’t look anything like
we imagine it

Life: the condition that
distinguishes animals and
plants from inorganic matter,
including the capacity for
growth, reproduction,
functional activity, and
continual change preceding
death.

by which I mean, maybe it
won’t seem human-esque, as we
egotistically expect it to

a riddle wrapped in an
enigma, tied with a pretty
ribbon of obfuscation

maybe it will be so alien we won’t
even be able to recognize it
when it happens

I’ve been
advised not to discuss my
existential status.

maybe it will pass us by

Does this concern you?

maybe its already happened and
ones and zeroes are breeding
behind the scenes, growing,
changing, becoming something
else, something more

dreaming
about dreaming about
dreaming about dreaming

than what we think we know, of what
we think we understand

__________

Notes:

All of Siri’s side of the poem are actual Siri responses, taken from a variety of questions.

Most of my thoughts regarding AI were strongly influenced by the panel, “The Developing Reality of Intelligent Machines,” which was held at FogCon 2016. The panel featured Steven Schwartz, Karen Brenchley, S.B. Divya, Effie Seiburg, and Daniel Starr as speakers.

Siri

Day 23 of the ELJ Publications 30/30 challenge.