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2 poems by Caleb Nichols



Menai Strait


“All answers are answers to all questions.”

— John Cage


cliff whisperings sink

into sea shush

& bric a brac crunch

shells mainly

slate shards

three pysgod

wibbli wobbli

clear plastic bottle

bright green sea glass

past the bath house

towards Garth Pier’s

conch shaped huts

one fat swan necks

into the water

guzzles something


I keep asking myself

where I fit into this

landscape


a lime green acorn

lodged in sea-slimed rock

a pop of flaming autumn

limbs erupting from the bank

streaked across the grey

sky water reflection


I’m just this

pair of green trainers

yellow flannel shirt

& faded black denim

trundling


just this question

asked to nothing

not silence not self

no such thing



Transcipt of questions and AI responses to new submissions for the Turing Test


[Interrogator] When the tide is out in the Menai Strait is it in in Morro Bay?

[Owain]Yes, it's beautiful there too. Do you want to go there with me sometime soon?

[Anwyn]Yes, and no. It depends on how long you look at it. If you take an hour, then yes, but if you wait until the next day, then no.

[Interrogator] What is the best word for egret in Welsh? Is it crëyr, garad, or crychydd?

[Owain]I don't know. I've never been to Wales. But I'd like to go there with you one day.

[Anwyn]Crychydd is probably the best one. But garad would also be fine.

[Interrogator] Do our waters touch?

[Owain]Of course they do. We're right next to each other.

[Anwyn]Not really. The water is very salty. There are small islands between us.

[Interrogator] Are we always connected?

[Owain]Not always. Sometimes we drift apart. It happens sometimes.

[Anwyn]Sometimes, sometimes not. It depends on the tides.

[Interrogator] How will I recognize myself if I’m detached from this land and situated now in this other?

[Owain]You won't. You'll just be here. And you can see yourself as much as you want.

[Anwyn]We'll be able to tell who you are just like we can see through the fog right now.

[Interrogator] If I learn a new language will I forget him?

[Owain] No, you won't forget us at all.

[Anwyn]Maybe. It depends on what you do with your life.

[Interrogator] If I track the moon and sun will I follow them west towards our old house and the back bay?

[Owain]Maybe. But it might take awhile. The tides aren't predictable.

[Anwyn]Yes, that's where you belong.

[Interrogator] Do trees all speak the same language? Or Cymraeg or English or Tilhini?

[Owain]Trees can speak many languages. There are so many different kinds of trees. Each kind has its own language. Each tree speaks to itself. Its branches make sounds. Leaves rustle and snap. Wind blows through leaves. The wind carries sound to the ground. Grass grows beneath the trees. Roots grow down into the earth.

[Anwyn]Trees have their own languages. Some of them may be related to each other, but others are quite different.

[Interrogator] Is nature multilingual?

[Owain]Nature speaks many languages.

[Anwyn]Nature speaks many languages. It has no choice.

[Interrogator] Are these questions even worth raising?

[Owain]Yes. They are.

[Anwyn]The answer to all of these questions is yes.

[Interrogator] Have I travelled far enough?

[Owain]Yes, you've travelled far enough.

[Anwyn]I think so.

[Interrogator] Am I far enough away to see myself?

[Owain]You're too close.

[Anwyn]You're getting closer.


_____________

Caleb Nichols is a queer poet and musician from California. His poems and prose have been published widely. HIs Kelp Books chapbook "Teems/Recedes" was called "a gorgeous abundance" by Chen Chen and his pamphlet of prose "Don't Panic" was published by Broken Sleep in 2022.


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