The Alphabet and the Algorithm

Come and take choice of all my library,
And so beguile thy sorrow[.]


I am not your metaphor or a symbol for
your misfortunes making your messes manifest, not a soldier

armed with this sword plotting a going-away party for
you martyrs without an exit strategy, a poorly marketed

prophet at war with my own words, my inner-conflict
comes out in my art, washes off like a

lover’s morning-after kiss, whatever is left of this little
heart skewered on the thorns of a shrine of

roses, all smog and diamonds, do I disgust you
as I get off letting you break it apart?


Is it shame or vanity when, witnessing my pen exchanging sanity for fame,
these scratches in this prison’s walls satirize me? Unintelligible as an abandoned past

crawling forward on all fours, inaudible talk suffering my company “just because”, is
its illegible scrawl a pitfall whispering subtlety’s fragility or is sobriety mocking me?


The alphabet and the algorithm, a machine for living, this routine melts misery into melody until it sings and

everything seems ordered again, structured according to some system’s inscrutable reason of indeterminate origin, internally obedient, a stinging set

of rules to be followed resulting in a measurable outcome, precise as needles, such as when idols become real

people, pretty, even beautiful, but just as miserable, a pen-name, a persona, a poetic brand getting out-of-hand, beating us

at this game as if the spontaneous combustion of the mind’s engine into full-blown confusion were suddenly a new

form of Neoplatonism and ennui simply an ancient symptom of latent genius, as worth exhibiting as pain is exploiting,


self-expression exploding into an industry, freezing-out people just for
the experience, to mint the essence of the feelings
needed to sell one’s vision, dissipating disappearing evidence, a

teardrop-shaped piece of ice wears down near hot surfaces,
suffices to disguise fears until the eyes of readers,
complete strangers, near the core, searing through the onion-stench

of this bombastic breath layering its dissent in piles
of pages the unrefined humanity of their scrutiny tears,
revealing what even the best authors fail to conceal,


yet hell encourages this practice of hardening oneself
against dishonesty, preferring the hypnotism of the hyperreal,
never softening an awful truth the way flame

does a candle, never bending to the whims
of an audience, never giving them what they
want, making them want what we give, “more-than-they-can-handle”

is our maxim and mission statement, the crux
of this business, being demanding its model, over-the-top/
more-personality-than-personal, never smiling, always scowling while memorializing my

impossible struggle for others whose only insight into
creation is that it makes plausible lies that
make one rich, it is the process by

which ideas become, as if by magic, by
some alchemy of œconomy or occult repackaging of
reality, their opposite: profitable schemes, and schemes entertainment,


a brainwashed populace of idiots already oblivious
to art and all of its constructs,

trading in pieces of me which seem
more like prepackaged sentiments shamelessly rehashed, bypassing

quality assurance on their way through prepress,
a reconstitution of my rudimentary elements rushed

out to feed the needs of numbed
masses hungry for another’s passion, every attempt

potentially a success, its conviction nearly convincing,
even and especially if I am already

this damaged, with one major difference, an
exception few of them will ever get,

let alone accept, the concept of creative
objectivity guides these things, defines my process,


which is why I will never meet or exceed your expectations,
in that sense I will never fail, with this in mind
what I write can only possibly be an extension of, not

entirely what, I am, you make it whatever you think it
is, a glimpse of a vision scribbled by an unseen hand
for a character whose voice can only be heard in your

head as you read it, a performance but not a caricature
your imagination puts on, I provide the staging, calculating, but unable
to control, the reaction, always cognizant that true talent is volatile.

1William Shakespeare, “The Most Lamentable Roman Tragedy of Titus Andronicus”, [Act] 4[, Scene] 1, [Lines] 34–35, spoken by Titus Andronicus to Lavinia, in “Titus Andronicus” of The Complete Works: Compact Edition: General Editors Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor: Editors Stanley Wells, Gary Taylor, John Jowett, and William Montgomery: With Introductions by Stanley Wells, published at Oxford by Clarendon Press in 1989; page 141.