A pocketbook laying on a bed of wires

These are a few poems from my recently published book of generative “chance poetry” We Are Invited to Climb. The book is not only written with chance systems but available in a free live-generating edition at weareinvitedtoclimb.org. In the spirit of virtual goods, these excerpts are embedded here in live-generating versions as well, realized anew every time you load or refresh this page.

The book is written using my pet poetry programming language, BML, which incorporates carefully composed randomized elements into linear text. On each generation of the book, thousands of poetic elements—words, phrases, line breaks, layout—are chosen by chance. Curious readers may be interested to read the book’s appendix, which delves into the technical construction and artistic motivations behind the project, as well as a brief survey of the generative text scene.

The book and these excerpts are published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA License and the book’s source code is available here.


we are invited to climb

new and old us met today. we ask what day it is; it doesn’t matter. we ask if we are happy, and it matters. we ask how many rows are crossed off on that list of things we’ll never do, and we learn about a whole new list. the plant in our window is starting to dry out in those longer leaves that droop over the pot, and our phone is filled with names we don’t remember.

these are the side effects of change—the things none of us were looking for—the things which contain the world, and that vast chasm whose walls are so far that we float around between them—a mountain above us—a birdflock below—the gridlines are laughing in a genuine kind of way, and we feel a strange comfort in the scope of it all.

what does change look like? does it have a smell? the skypoems are wider now, those upsidedown kites whose strings reach down from the clouds—we’ve been looking for one that gives us permission, but mostly we’ve just found nonsense. the kitestrings go taut, then slack, then taut again:

we are invited to climb.


wayingsong behind the eyelids, the underthere, a beforemaroon again with questions and ideas—how to see around a color when we’re stuck inside it—how to count from eight to blue with only one hand—everything moving so slowly but the clock seems to be working as usual with those metaled clunks and woodenbits. the hour hand seems different this time around.

the smell of damp sticks from outside

the smell of damp sticks from outside. a littlemoving sound. we notice how everything is so softandgreen, and how the cars driving by sound like leaves.

we ask if it can stay this way for a while.

it doesn’t, but that’s okay.