The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Love, Robot by Margaret Rhee

Beam, Robot
how did we meet?
at the bar.
i thought you were beautiful across the way.
you lit up with the
pin ball machine.
you dazzled every time the
pool stick hit a cue.
i liked your lights.
i liked you.
i decided to say hi.
and there you were
dazzled by me.
this never happens you say,
after an
evening of talking,
we find ourselves alone,
your lights hovering over me,
my flickering dream machine.
there is no love manual for robots
you’re all made so uniquely.
in a steel factory.
where no one has the keys to
turn the electric locks.

i never attempted to hold one
between my breasts to turn on
your lights.
you had so many keys all that
never seemed to work with me.
when i began to love someone else,
would that be okay?
im not sure,
you replied,
how ill react.
who programmed you?
you placed two silver coins on my eyes
and asked me
to stay.
and i couldn’t, dear robot,
not to be cruel
but because i thought
i was right.
i was
following the morse code of my human heart.
why did you buy flowers and cards for me
even though.
why did you shine and
flicker and blink
after it was
long over.
all i naively
remembered of you was
a softened dim.
now, i understand why you took what you could.
the cold moon sullies a wet san francisco lawn.

small glints on blades of grass depend on how you look.
what i remember: once,
after we had dinner in the city.
turk street and 7th
i stroked your shoulder
your lights began to beam and
you stayed put,
as the cars passed
us, and the traffic lights

This selection comes from the collection Love, Robot, available from The Operating System. Order your copy here. Our curator for December is Jessica Rae Bergamino.

Margaret Rhee is a poet, artist, and scholar. She is the author of chapbooks Yellow (Tinfish Press, 2011) and Radio Heart; or, How Robots Fall Out of Love (Finishing Line Press, 2015), nominated for a 2017 Elgin Award, Science Fiction Poetry Association. Her project The Kimchi Poetry Machine was selected for the Electronic Literature Collection Volume 3. Literary fellowships include Kundiman, Hedgebrook, and the Kathy Acker Fellowship. She received her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in ethnic and new media studies. Currently, she is a Visiting Scholar at the NYU A/P/A Institute, and a Visiting Assistant Professor at SUNY Buffalo in the Department of Media Study.

Jessica Rae Bergamino is the author of UNMANNED, forthcoming from Noemi Press, as well as the chapbooks The Desiring Object or Voyager Two Explains to the Gathering of Stars How She Came to Glow Among Them (Sundress Publications), The Mermaid Singing (dancing girl press), and Blue in All Things: a Ghost Story (dancing girl press). Individual poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Third Coast, Black Warrior Review, Colorado Review, and Southern Humanities Review. She is a doctoral student in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Utah, where she serves as Reviews Editor for Quarterly West.


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