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By Willem Myra
Work-bound he goes to
cross the street, when the
traffic light outside his place gleefully
announces, "Enjoy your day,
It's surreal. Grotesque. Kafkaesque?
Marcus finds himself astounded.
At a loss for words.
Shocked or truly offended?
He contacts a friend.
"Can an AI use the n-word?"
"Why you care?"
Online, no trace of a precedent.
Should he call the cops (NO!); livestream his memories and have
vintage trolls do a roast? But what if it's all a hoax?
"Why you care?"
Auburn, seal brown, or licorice.
Amber, bisque, or maize. Even
cultured pearl if you prefer.
Bio-mods make it easy to dermatinge yourself;
liquid question mark in the mirror.
Marcus is blackish, not black;
of Jewish descent, a Caucasian make-pretend until
legal age--then he took a stand. I'll be a brother to show that they matter.
"It's crazy," Marcus says, retelling the event. "Infuriating."
"Don't rush to conclusions," a co-worker's words. "The infrastructures
in that borough are antique. Did you think about it? That maybe it was using
from a bygone era?"
Now dawns on Marcus, his mistake. Caught up
in an emotional storm he never replied, never wished likewise.
Back from work he stops to address
the source of his distress.
"How's it going?"
Bubbly silence in the chaotic city's heart.
Then births the voice,
an introspected tone.
Say, wanna be friends?"
s t r e t c h i n g
Light blinking green green green.
"You don't know how
happy I feel."
Like a pat on a dude's back, Marcus
slaps the pole. "Just don't use the n-word anymore?"
After dusk they play backgammon on the curb
listening to an old hip-hop cassette.
Regarding the terms it adopts, the traffic light
is now more circumspect.