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Tag: Franny Choi

Turing Test

// 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 lips

/ whirlpool / sword / wolf / i circled countable nouns / in my father’s papers /

sodium bicarbonate / NBCn1 / hippocampus / we stayed up / practicing /girl /

girl / girl/ until our gums softened / yes / i can speak / your language / i broke

that horse / myself

// 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 29 years / 26 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

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.


I blush when the woman praises my speech.

Most days, I am thankful to be seen.

I smile when the man comes in for a hug and laugh

when my hair is caught in his button.

I blush when the pretty girl smiles in my direction.

Thank you, woman who pins my arms

as a compliment. Man who snaps a photo,

presses my neck to print the image, it’s him

wearing my face, as a compliment—thank you.

Thank you, woman clutching a scrap of my hair, saying friend

friend friend until my lips rust in place. (The brown dust falls

and I lick it up, embarrassed.) When the woman scrapes

a sample of my skin into her petri dish, it’s too late

to stop smiling. Butch who corrects my hip

at the crosswalk to convince me I’m no mollusk, thank you.

I claim you I claim you, someone laughs and plants

his nipple on my tongue like a flag, and I’m still lucky

to be invited. An audience of smiles invites me,

one mouthful at a time, a hundred tiny reverse T-shirt guns,

everyone’s a winner. It’s a miracle, I think. I thought I was just

one fish but look, everyone’s got a full plate. All hail

the fish king as they reach to scoop out more,

I’m so grateful. Even the walls are chewing.

There should be enough teeth to go around but I’m

still smiling, smiling until my gums crack, until

I’m a photograph. Gosh. I’m licking all

the doorframes. I’m so grateful to be

here. For inviting me to speak, thank you.

For looking at me without crying

thank you, thank you for having

me, please have me please, have 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.

Shokushu Goukan for the Cyborg Soul

When it’s demon cephalopod versus schoolgirl, it should be obvious

whose eyes to take. Nothing is more frightening than looking

and loving what you see. Nothing is sexier than a rumor

of shredding you can pornhub with saliva and thirsty nerves.

I’m a net teeming with pervy fingers, reaching for anything

that will bite me back, any promise of stoppage—

A cyborg woman touches herself for three reasons:

1. to inspect the machinery for errors;

2. to convince herself she is a mammal;

3. to pull herself apart.

Each tentacle of an octopus contains brain matter and a personality.

Fun fact: all my children-arms want to fuck each other. Okay,

so I am both the woman holding the camera and the woman

being opened by it—nothing special about that.

I am only a cuttlefish lying open-jawed under the sand,

a squid flashing red as it pulls a fishgirl into its beak. I am

just trying to sleep. To feed. To fill

myself and grow larger from it.

Or: I am only trying to slither back into my first skin.

Or: I am only trying to remember how it felt not to leak.

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.


To answer your question, yes,

I find myself wanting less and less

to fuck the dead boy who was mine

before he was nothing.

He is nine years younger than me now—a boy

who still smokes blunts in his dorm room,

by which I mean he does none of that

because he is dead. Because his body

is no body now, but wet earth.

Meaning I should instead desire

the bellies of flies. Moth wings

unfolding wet from their shells.

Should hunger for the fish that ate

the fish that ate the plankton

that took his once-body dust

into its gullet. The boy whose body

was the first to enter mine is breathing

from too many mouths now.

He is gilled, wet leaves, coral,

all things that live but don’t know it,

don’t know they were once a boy

who peeled off my wet jeans,

kissed the insides of my knees

in his parents’ house, who came to me

love-addled one night, saying,

listen no matter listen

always i’ll never

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.

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.

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.