Forest Landscape

The Curse of Curiosity

after WALL-E

Curiosity can serve as an intrinsic reward signal to enable the agent to explore its environment and learn skills.

—Deepak Pathak et al., “Curiosity-Driven Exploration by Self-Supervised Prediction”

Long ago the richest men left Earth
a dusty dump. Each day, I gather trash,
compact it into cubes, and stack them high.
The other robots all broke down, in storms.
I mustn’t fix them, so I hoard their tracks,
their shovel hands, their eyes; though by myself
I’ll rust before the fig trees grow. Perhaps
these DVDs with fruit juice stains will guide me.

Great Scott! Am I alive? I cannot be
both Frankenstein and monster—that’s absurd.
But call me Adam: I must find the time
machine and drive it back to when I’ll fall
for the first lass to blast me with a ray
of sunshine. Y’all. The straights are not OK.

in JAKE, April 13, 2024

Running the Show

Used to be I could just smite a guy, boom, lightning bolt. But when those bozos got wise to me, I had to branch out—fire, flood, famine, Romans, whatever I could think of.

These days, half the planet’s looking for continuity errors like I’m making a sequel to Game of Thrones or some shit. Don’t get me started on the physicists—“The God Particle”? Fuck outta here! It takes a me-damn intergalactic game of pool to do anything now. Even my eternal self ain’t got time for that.

Man, they used to fear me. At least I have more followers than Kim.

in Pere Ube, February 12, 2024

Autumn in Toronto

A wasp hangs from my balcony rail, wriggling
against a ruined web. I spot the fly
she meant to feed her sisters—they feed her
their sweet secretions. Soon, they will decamp
from spit-and-wood-pulp hexes she helped build.
Below, the highway is a cocktail straw
where lines of weary cars are bubbling home.
TVs flick on in glass towers. She stops.
Should I have done something? At Sunday brunch,
I shooed a wasp from my hot toddy; her,
perhaps; but that was of no consequence—
workers always perish in the frost.
And anyway, the asters will provide.
When I look back from my TV, she’s gone.

in The Pierian, Issue 2.1, January 1, 2024