Milwaukee at Night – Not a Mother’s Delight

Urban ripples seem shocking to modern Americans.

Touch my calm skin.

You’ve developed a love for me, you bless my soul.

My mother always told me I should never run with freaks.

My mother always told me I shouldn’t play with the bros.

 

“Stay aware, stay by and stay to safety,” She always says.

A shiny stadium in Bucks Town,

A Ringworm sleeps comfortably around Milwaukee’s umbilicus.

There is no absence, there is no other form of amusement.

My life is not found within alleyways, yardsticks, rooftops.

My life is not found within 10,000 highly trained suspenders.

 

Build-ups certainly get vandalized, firearms are lit, civilian prophecy destroyed.

The nightcap, there is more maroon, with rocks belched at policeman and shotguns fled.

Suspenders flee in an unknown directive.

There is no absence, there is no other form of amusement.

I’ve got worried messengers, who are concerned for me.

I’ve got a mother, that loves me, named Valerie.

 

The Process

To begin this process, I first used the variety of links provided by Professor Hall, including ravenblack.net, madsci,org, and “The N+7 Machine.” The first two links I listed provided generated sentences. They were random. From there, I entered them into list form within a Word document. I subjectively selected the sentences to be listed based on the ones I liked. The third link provided several variations of the customized input. A few sentences I obtained from The N+7 Machine were variations of the sentences I copied and pasted from the first two links. Examples of these variations were the “My mother told always told me” sentences. The modified sentences containing actual context and Milwaukee content were obtained through simple copy and paste methods (Copy and Paste was crucial to this project).

From there, I had to tie my sentences together. But first, I had to add, subtract, and edit words. I even decided I couldn’t use a few words and sentences I once “liked.” The second step of the entire project’s process, editing, was the hardest challenge. How did I choose what stayed and what went? What is important for the reader? How did I create meaning from sentences that did not relate? I felt I first needed a theme or somewhere to go with this project. My first thought was Milwaukee. I felt nighttime would be a good time frame to base this narrative around because Mother’s never want their children out late, especially in an urban setting. Some generated sentences I already had made helped me decide this theme.

I related the idea of nighttime to danger and thought of the recent violence regarding a friend (and UWM student) who was recently robbed at gunpoint at 2am near Maryland Ave. and Locust St. I also related this violence to the Milwaukee Riots. Therefore, I inserted text from the mass email sent to students by the UWM Police about my friends’ situation and also a Huffington Post article on the Milwaukee Riots into the N+7 machine. The idea in my short poem is not about the riots, but rather the opportunity that danger could happen after dark. Mother’s are watchful over their children and want them safe. We were all born from mother’s and they want us to be safe. I would say that the hardest challenge of this process within this project was the use the words in a short  poem that all connected together. Finding the right article was difficult, but worked in the end. I used a few phrases from the UWM Police report about my friend. “Stay aware, stay by and stay to safety” was a transformation of UWM Police’s ,“Stay aware, stay alert and stay safe” headline.

These two steps created a final, complete poem. The final product or “output” was a polished version of the somewhat random, generated thoughts I first obtained through electronic methods. I tried to put my best piece of work together, but with ideas that are so random it is hard to pull it all together. I think that this project displays the hard work that artists in this movement went through to create their non-traditional pieces of work. It certainly is easier said than done. This 3 stanza, 17-line poem took a several hours of work to compile.

Artists during this time period were interested in non-traditional forms of art. That is why we see many common things considered art during these movements. The avant-garde style was basically to go against expectations. Some of the verbiage and ideologies used in my poem are unorthodox compared to what the common human would think is normal. I think the most bizarre image used in my poem is about the ringworm “that sleeps comfortably around Milwaukee’s umbilicus.” I visualized a constant danger of violence for Milwaukee citizens during the night through this weird use of personification. Traditionally, poetry or story telling would be connected, clear, understood, and easily interpreted. However, Surrealist and Dadaist literature went against those ideas. My poem might be somewhat connected in structure, but it is not very clear in its meaning or context. There is a lot to interpret as there is in any poem in these movements.

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