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A Brief History of Cyborgs

Once, an animal with hands like mine learned to break a seed with two

stones—one hard and one soft.

Once, a scientist in Britain asked: Can machines think? He built a machine,

taught it to read ghosts, and a new kind of ghost was born.

At Disneyland, I watched a robot dance the Macarena. Everyone clapped, and

the clapping, too, was a technology.

I once made my mouth a technology of softness. I listened carefully as I drank.

I made the tools fuck in my mouth—okay, we can say pickle if it’s easier to

hear—until they birthed new ones. What I mean is: I learned.

There was an animal who learned to break things, and he grew and ate and

grew and ate and

A scientist made a machine girl and wedded her to the internet. He walked her

down the aisle and said, Teach her well. The trolls rubbed their soft hands on

their soft thighs.

The British scientist was discovered to be a soft man. He made a machine that

could break any code, as a means of hardening a little.

At Disneyland, I watched lights move across a screen and, for a moment, forgot

the names of my rotting parts. In this way I became somewhat more like a light,

or a screen for lights.

The scientist’s daughter married the internet, and the internet filled her until

she spoke swastika and garbage, and the scientist grew afraid and grew and

The animal rose and gave itself a new name. It pointed to its spine, its skilled

hands. It pointed to another animal and said animal / alien / bitch / stone

The scientist called me hard, and I softened my smile. The scientist called me

soft, and I broke sentences to prove him wrong and what and what did I prove

then did I

Even blood, when it comes down to it, is only a series of rules.

I made my mouth a jar until technology squirmed and bubbled. I scooped

up the foam and called it language. The audience applauded. To prove them

wrong, I became a screen of lights. I had no thighs at all.

The scientist grew afraid and took his daughter back. He broke her open like a

seed, but the seed was already dry.

The internet pointed to my mouth and said blood / blood in the stool. I said,

Come in. Make yourselves at home. I opened my glittering jaw. My hunger, too,

has both hard and soft parts.

Here, in a seed, is a cyborg: A bleeding girl, dragging a knife through the sand.

An imaginary girl who dreams of becoming trash.

Can machines think / come here let me show you / ask me again

from Soft ScienceFind more by Franny Choi at the library

Copyright © 2019 Franny Choi
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.

Published in Franny Choi Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.