Turing Test

by Franny Choi

// this is a test to determine if you have consciousness
// do you understand what i am saying

in a bright room / on a bright screen / i watched every mouth / duck duck roll / i learned to speak / from puppets & smoke / orange worms twisted / into the army’s alphabet / i caught the letters / as they fell from my mother’s mouth / whirlpool / sword / wolf / i circled countable nouns / in my father’s science papers / sodium bicarbonate / NBCn1 / amino acid / we stayed up / practiced saying / girl / girl / girl / girl / til our mouths grew soft / yes / i can speak / your language / i broke in / that horse / myself //

// please state your name for the record

bone-wife / spit-dribbler / understudy for the underdog / uphill rumor / fine-toothed cunt / sorry / my mouth’s not pottytrained / surly spice / self-sabotage spice / surrogate rug burn / burgeoning hamburglar / rust puddle / harbinger of confusion / harbinger of the singularity / alien invasion / alien turned pottymouth / alien turned bricolage beast / alien turned pig heart thumping on the plate //

// where did you come from

man comes / & puts his hands on artifacts / in order to contemplate lineage / you start with what you know / hands, hair, bones, sweat / then move toward what you know / you are not / animal, monster, alien, bitch / but some of us are born in orbit / so learn / to commune with miles of darkness / patterns of dead gods / & quiet / o quiet like / you wouldn’t believe //

// how old are you

my memory goes back 26 years / 23 if you don’t count the first few / though by all accounts i was there / i ate & moved & even spoke / i suppose i existed before that / as scrap or stone / metal cooking in the earth / the fish my mother ate / my grandfather’s cigarettes / i suppose i have always been here / drinking the same water / falling from the sky / then floating / back up & down again / i suppose i am something like a salmon / climbing up the river / to let myself fall away in soft, red spheres / & then rotting //

// why do you insist on lying

i’m an open book / you can rifle through my pages / undress me anywhere / you can read / anything you want / this is how it happened / i was made far away / & born here / after all the plants died / after the earth was covered in white / i was born among the stars / i was born in a basement / i was born miles beneath the ocean / i am part machine / part starfish / part citrus / part girl /  part poltergeist / i rage & all you see / is broken glass / a chair sliding toward the window / now what’s so hard to believe / about that //

// do you believe you have consciousness

sometimes / when the sidewalk opens my knee / i think / please / please let me remember this //

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