It Begins… (“Mistah Kurtz – he dead.”)

From OpenAI/ChatGPT

Seed words: bigmouth, charmer, coma, devil 
Write a dadaist poem
Bigmouth charmer in a coma,
Devil's here to take us home.
Bigmouth charmer with a frown,
Devil's here to turn it upside down.
Coma's taken over the night,
Devil's here to show us the light. 
Bigmouth charmer in the sky,
Devil's here to make us fly.

For Shay’s Word Garden

29 thoughts on “It Begins… (“Mistah Kurtz – he dead.”)

  1. I feel like I should read the title’s book reference before commenting.

    The link doesn’t work for me; it requires login.

    The poem scares me. I’m going to read it as being about doing drugs because that’s the sweetest, least terrifying thing I can come up with.

    It’s still flipping fantastic poetry, no matter how shaky you’ve made my veins feel.

    This reminds me of the voodoo guy in the Tiana movie I like so much.

    P.S. I love being safely exposed to Skeleton Key culture, but I don’t want it to hurt me.


    1. Thanks. For the title, might be easier to read “The Hollow Men” by Eliot, which by reference also picks up Heart of Darkness by Conrad. I think I mostly just wanted to explore what a “Hollow Man” would mean in the context of a poem generated by an AI. And of course, the dystopian ending of Eliot’s poem. Apologies about the url/login. I forgot that in order to experiment with the AI, you need a login. It takes a fair amount of experimentation to generate the kind of poem I did. (See my response to Charley). The poem scares me too. I didn’t write it, but I caused it. What does that mean?


      1. ‘The poem scares me too. I didn’t write it, but I caused it. What does that mean?” … This is what I’m looking for in poetry — a little nugget of philosophy that won’t let go of me.

        I think that quoted bit should begin or be in another poem, should you feel inclined to expound upon it.

        I’m having to turn this into “Mistah Kurtzy” so it doesn’t follow me into bedtime. I don’t want any nightmares. 🙂

        It feels very Stephen King-ish to me. I love him, but he is scary.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I meant that I literally did not write the poem. I generated the poem in an AI tool called OpenAI, which was where the link pointed. But I “caused” the poem by the ways I was experimenting. The poem that the AI created was pretty darn good, and not that different from what my own writing might have produced. Which is why I find it scary!!


  2. Technically, the impetus of this poem is terrifyingly dystopic.

    I confess, I read poetry with heavy lenses. “Coma” to me is the perfect descriptor of much of technology. The Zombie Apocalypse that was feared came and went with cell phones. Many brains eaten. Speaking of Apocalypse… “the horror! The horror!” Kurtz is either dead or a bloated, bald-headed hollow man who’s charmed the natives by mumbling and method acting.

    But I digress….

    Great poem, Randall!


    1. Well, is it even “Randall?” How much of me is in the poem, or gets credit for the poem? I certainly “caused” the poem, and I did a fair amount of experimentation to get that particular poem to render. Interestingly, instructing the system to generate a Surrealist poem, or a Modernist one, or one in the style of Yeats, Eliot, Dickenson, Ginsburg, or Whitman produced only bland(ish) verse. Only when I decided “what the heck” and threw in “dadaist” did it come back with the above. Somehow that was a trigger for it to make much less obvious choices. I kept the seed words the same across all of my attempts, and I can see how those choices also “create,” or at least contribute, to what comes out. What is fairly shocking though is that while it suddenly made much more complex choices, they… worked… I would be less impressed by what is essentially a parlor trick if the result wasn’t better than a whole lot of what passes for poetry here in the blogosphere, or even in print. Clearly, over time this kind of tool and system will get better and better. And… what if we are just a parlor trick too? A very good parlor trick, but only a matter of scale. I don’t want to believe that, but can’t rule it out either. I agree with you about technology, and we can put down our phones and leave our screens and canoe or hike to a wilderness where we might know ourselves better. That is true too. But it seems to be all true. The genie in the bottle, out of the bottle, just a trick with a man behind the screen in the Emerald city? I’m still left with “Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Even if not Heart of Darkness or Apocalypse Now.


      1. “Somehow that was a trigger for it to make much less obvious choices.”

        My daughter asked me how to write poetry the other day. That was essentially my response — make an observation and state it in a completely unexpected, unique way.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Does it in fact invalidate everything? I was still making choices along the way, wasn’t I? I was still using my ear to decide what was/was not interesting. I threw out a dozen earlier attempts. What if it is my “partner” – If off to the side I’m running this kind of thing, notice something interesting, then incorporate and extend that? E.g., like an interactive prompt? If I cut and paste from an AI stream that I’m causing to render, am I plagiarizing? I’m not arguing for any of this, just putting the questions out there.

          Is this the moment in poetry (and other arts) like the seismic change in art due to photography, where before, art was about representation, then after had to be about something more? What if AI lets poets be like DJ’s, spinning tracks, putting the mix together, the dance floor hopping?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. There really is too much here to answer quickly — without going kneejerk. Photography still requires a human eye to compose. Yes, any idiot can point and shoot. But not any idiot can make art with a camera… as shown by selfies.

            Are you plagiarizing? One could say instead that you become the lazy partner in group work; in which case I would give you the lesser grade and not partner you with the [entity] you just spent time exasperating.

            DJ’s lifting tracks… proof that you require absolutely no musical ability or originality to obtain a recording contract. My jury is still out on that being music.

            In fact, my take is that “poetry” coming out of this “wordle-thingie” requires no sacrifice on the part of the poet.

            Doesn’t that invalidate the poet, and lessen, if not destroy, the artform?


            1. “Doesn’t that invalidate the poet, and lessen, if not destroy, the artform?”

              That my man, is indeed the question. Or does it make the very best human poetry shine that much brighter?

              Liked by 1 person

  3. I think each reader gets to decide whether or not it’s poetry. I dub conversational nuggets poetry every day, though my chat partner does not intend it as such. I don’t care where it comes from, AI or human; it becomes poetry to me when the language affects me on an alternative level. It goes where other forms of communication cannot.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Coma’s taken over the night,” – really like this line. The whole thing translates well as song lyrics. Think mine went a bit dada too yesterday! Thank you for the kind comments you left on my post by the way 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Read the comments and this is a generated poem… Well, it’s better than many who actually write one! Haunting and comforting (the sing-song element of it) Quite like a nursery rhyme – they are actually pretty morbid!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. ah, to catch a bigmouth devil charmer in the wild… nice!

    i haven’t tried any of the ai generators yet, but on my list, still very much in the realm of conceptualism. years ago, a friend and i had great fun loading shakespearian sonnets into online language translators, translating them from english into french, then into german, then russian, and then japanese, and then back into english, the results were fascinating to say the least. this turnnned out very well

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.