|The Hoover Dam - a construct associated|
with both positive and negative impacts
on people, nature, and civilization.
- humanly contrived (artificial limb)
- caused or produced by a human and especially social or political agency (artificial price advantage)
- lacking in natural or spontaneous quality (artificial smile)
- imitation or sham (artificial flavor)
The implications for many of these definitions can be negative - like the artificial smile or a "sham." But other definitions bring to mind positive responses. Humans have contrived many critical advances like vaccines and built important constructs like weather satellites. And poets have long included the artificial in their examinations of life and living. Here are a few lines ...
Ruin and Beauty by Patricia Young
Through the open window we hear nothing--
no airplane, lawn mower, no siren
speeding its white pain through the city’s traffic.
There is no traffic. What remains is all that remains.
My Proteins by Jane Hirshfield
Yet I, they say, am they—
my bacteria and yeasts,
my father and mother,
my drivers talking on cell phones,
my subways and bridges,
my thieves, my police
who chase my self night and day.
Lake Havasu by Dorianne Laux
the TV on: seven dead
from Tylenol, the etched black wedge of the
Vietnam Memorial, the Commodore Computer
unveiled, the first artificial heart, just beginning
to wonder if something might be wrong.
Prompt #28: Choose some aspect of the concept of "artificial" and write a poem. Consider the feelings of wonder and awe that we often associate with the natural world, and apply them to our artificial world. Think about why we look at nature and see beauty, and use those same eyes on artificial constructs. Look at what it is that contributes to the "making" of artificial things - A bulldozer or crane? A glass beaker in a laboratory? A metal file in a machine shop? What are the implications of the human ability to invent, to create, and to manipulate and change the natural world? Consider these ideas as you craft your poem.
For something more specific, use a form like haiku that is often used to contemplate nature.
And naturally I'll be thinking of what I can do with this theme in a sci-fi, horror, or fantasy context.
Did you use this or one of our other prompts? You can post your poem in our comments, if you like.
Prompts crafted by:
J.A. Grier, Senior Scientist and Education Specialist, Planetary Science Institute
Amy Grier, Managing Editor, Solstice Literary Magazine
Image Credits: Hoover Dam Wikimedia Commons GNU Free Documentation License