A Writing Exercise Using AI Art

{The following is a writing exercise based on AI generated art that I recently created with an app. The app uses words (and other prompts that you can input) to create the art. I’m not sure how actual artists feel about AI art, but I would imagine that it’s not regarded much differently than other computer enhanced art or graphic design. Even if you’re not an artist, I think it’s an interesting way to spark creativity for poetry or fiction. It’s fun to play around with. There are several free apps out there. This art was made with the Dream by Wombo app on iPhone. What are your thoughts on AI art? Is it just another creative tool, or is it a threat?}

The Portal

On a forbidden floor of the Resurrection Hotel in Horsewhip, Florida, a room reeked of sour milk and ashtrays. Some poor soul in a rush had chiseled the seven off the door to room 667 and replaced it with a six—scrawled in Sharpie.

[Art created with dream.ai wombo app.]

Most of the town’s residents were busy that late August evening –polishing their shiny work ethic, staying late at the office, or heading out to a second job after grabbing some fast food. They were too preoccupied to notice the sudden drop in temperature. They didn’t pay any attention to the summer squall forming off the coast. It was offseason. The beach was empty.

What no one realized was that the Governor and some friends were having an impromptu meeting at the musty hotel downtown in the room formerly known as 667. No one was allowed on the floor. There were seven participants. At least two were known members of a fledgling out-of-state alt-right group.

While the room’s occupants engaged in light conversation, no one was aware of the slight shift in the energy that surrounded the hotel. If someone were to walk by, they might sense a wave of heat rising up from the pavement. They might experience breathing difficulties.

And if you were to look up onto the sixth floor, at just the right moment, you might see one of the windows pulsing and flickering like a beacon signaling an unknown satellite somewhere in the darkness above the earth—signaling at first under the cover of stars and later in broad daylight—in a language you could never understand, conveying a message you could never hope to decode—not in this lifetime. Not in a thousand lifetimes.

The Singing Heart

image from pixabay

The crowd stared at the naked young man, at the heart beating outside his skin, and at the well behind him, from which he had been extracted by the elders. Twenty years ago, when he’d gone missing, an inhuman singing began here at the well at the center of the village. A chanting in the night.

The pastry chef, who was awake at odd hours preparing his sweets, heard it first and woke his wife. She told the neighbors, and soon everyone was listening in the dark, losing sleep.

By God’s grace, a small hunting party returned from the woods with news of demons–demons with hearts beating outside their scaly chests, singing a cryptic but pertinent riddle for the discerning:

Only mouths are we. Who sings the distant heart which safely exists in the center of all things?

{This was inspired by a prompt from Sanaa at dVerse for Prosery on May 10, 2021. Unfortunately, I’m much too late to join in, but I wanted to credit the source of the prompt. Prosery is a regular feature at dVerse that requires participants to create a piece of flash fiction of 144 words or less, using a line of poetry that is provided. In this case, the line is from “Heartbeat” by Rainer Maria Rilke. The line: Only mouths are we. Who sings the distant heart which safely exists in the center of all things? must be unaltered and included in the total word count.}

The Stone Tree

My naked feet pressed the wet blades flat and smooth. Grass is always coldest in the shadow of the Stone Tree. I dreamt about her. Mother told us that anyone who cut that tree would find a treasure inside.

Last night I was a sparrow circling above the forest. I caught a bright flash of white and silver like starlight. I knew I could find that place again in the morning.

After lessons, I drew a picture of her. Her bright limbs reaching for me through thick gray clouds. I wept because I could never be certain that those arms would be able to reach me here in the darkest part of the world.

When I found her, I lay down in the soft moss beside her and slept.

These memories were left here with the trees.

{Some short fiction for the dVerse Prosery prompt. 

It’s meant to encourage poetry writers to try some fiction.  I don’t think fiction is my cup of tea, but the prompts are meant to expand our creativity by taking us outside of our comfort zones.

This prompt asked us to incorporate a line of poetry: “These memories were left here with the trees.” It is taken from a poem by the new US poet laureate, Joy Harjo. Her complete poem is here.

You are only given a few days to write it. Most people write theirs on the first day of the prompt! I like to revise what I write a few times before I post… and after I post… and three years later… I am always revising what I write. I see what’s missing and I add it (or not), especially with fiction.

Poetry is a little different. Because a poem is such a small piece of writing, I usually get the sense that it is complete.  

To be honest, I am certain that I am a poet, not a fiction writer. But these short fiction prompts can be fun to try, and maybe they will help me to develop as a poet too.

I got the idea for the piece of fiction above from a poem I wrote the other day. The prompt asked us to write in prose, so I turned my poem into a piece of short fiction.

I think the poem I wrote also deserves to see the light of day… so I will share it:

The Stone Tree

It’s been so long.
My insides,
like the trees
of ancient times,
are petrified.

I can count
ring upon ring
upon ring,
of gold, but I
am not that old.

No spirit will call
my bone white branches home,
or chew my silver leaves
When I weep, even
when I sigh,

always the smallest,
nearest creatures die,
and, unlike my evergreen
memory, decompose.