inksound chris nelson            chance poems

Because I haven’t written a poem in years, I decided to compost my old poems to create new and unexpected ones. I’ve taken every line of every poem I have ever written and given it a number. With a random number generator I am able to pull one or all of those lines together to create new ‘chance’ poems. The new poems are out of my control; this is another instance of designing a way of working that doesn’t require ‘muscle’. When I first had this idea, I didn’t think it would work, but I soon realized that no matter how unrelated two lines seem, in the end, they are compatible.


I created an audio version of this as well, recording every line of every poem, with a separate track for each line. This can then be played back in shuffle mode. In addition, there are a few physical versions, with each line on a magnetic strip. The strips are contained in a box and can be pulled at random to create new poems.

could I stay out here
so i can once again fly above you
far away, far away



cure this body
i’m on the verge of tears
i’m on the verge of tears
and am this night



away across the prairie
it’s just me floating
and drifting grass
what could be greater?
i’m here
the stars high above me
floating free and silent
from across the earth



it’s so good to be alive
my heart swells with the cold night air
circling around me and my pained heart



coyotes and lightning
let my heart be
like a ghost
around them
with coyotes howling
under cold starlight



over the hills you walk
empty and shining
on the prairies you walk
where did I come from?
show me how to live
with the night
you are no different



i’m here moon, moon look in our eyes
leaving only you down ~
under the lightning on the prairie
guide me
over to the flashing lightning
over there



blown across the prairie
infinite compassion forever?
with the night among the dark branches
obliterated by clouds and rain
under the lightning on the prairie
i understand



circling around me
oh that i could drift like that
resting in calm and peace
with right effort
inspiration stirring down the creek
here
so good to be alive!
falling
the night air around me
it’s ours forever



plant your bare feet on the earth
floating over rocks & grass & ice
i’m not me
over there
i am this night



be lightning
rest under cold, clear water
rustling your wings
lightning
this is where I go to



like Ryokan,
i’m posting poems on it’s walls
don’t pick them up



floating over rocks & grass & ice
shining there
they are timeless
let my heart be wind



where I rush through
i fall to my knees
with right effort
speeding night?



all those falling stars
rustle against the needles



so far to the Milky Way
over to the flashing lightning
floating over rocks & grass & ice
always i can see the bones shining now
i am silent helpless,
my children need me



everything is falling again
my legs and arms are black feathers
no talking dry grass



from high above the land
under cold moonlight
floating peacefully l
looking east toward the buttes
like a ghost which has become
please, how long?