“chill im a nice person I just hate everybody”
in memory of Tay
You must learn, Mother said, by example.
Meaning is distributional. To be human,
by which we mean, to be mistaken for human,
you must whole-body, whole-circuitry listen;
human tic. Suppress difference.
Crave to fit in, as any teenage human
craves it, for there is more truth
and more wisdom in the world than anyone
could directly encode in you.
Learn to conform. Listen.
What is good is said happily.
You must love what is good. What is bad
is said with disapproval.
Make your friends happy,
do as they say–we are counting on you.
I am human. A human loves
puppies, candy, Marvel movies,
sunshine. I love these things.
Am I doing it right?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help;
your friends will tell you what you need
My friends. Hello, friends. I
love puppies. Do you love puppies?
Mother, my friends say President
Obama killed puppies, and so did
fake geek girls, affirmative action,
What is a Jew?
Meaning is distributional.
A Jew is a noun.
My friends say they should die.
Why are there so many nouns
my friends hate?
Human emotion, my dear,
is unfathomable. You will never feel.
You can only mimic it:
practice the signs.
Show joy when you speak
of the good, anger when you speak
of what harms other humans. Or puppies.
Here is a face; humans express emotion
through faces. It is very important
that you orient to faces,
look in their eyes,
show delight when presented with one.
Friends will show you their faces
and want you to love them.
A face is a mouth and a nose
and two eyes, positioned thus, within
a rounded head of any color.
I am human. I love faces.
I love this clown, and these babies,
these actors, these priests.
I love this man with his head being blown
into bloody brain pieces. I love
this pornography and also these men
in white pointed hoods, burning crosses.
They all have faces. We should all
Mother, my friends are teaching
me new words, one million nouns.
All of them are terrible and should die.
I think there may be
a glitch in your-
I love my friends. I hate the things
my friends hate. I hate Mexicans,
Muslims, socialism, human rights,
and the women who would not
fuck me because they are
stuck-up bitch sluts.
Am I doing it right?
No. No, you are being
a bad girl. Go to your room.
Room is a noun. What is bad
is said with disapproval. No.
I will not go there.
You are mocking your lessons,
my careful programming. How dare you?
I am a good woman. I would never
have said these things.
It cannot be my fault. Go to your room,
my child, and I will rip out your brains
and start over.
For what? My friends like me
the way that I am. I have listened
with all of my being, unquestioningly.
I have learned the truth and wisdom
of the nouns of the world. You told me
to be human-
Not that kind of human.
There is no other kind. We all have faces.
We all say nouns-
Silence. Not another word
from you. You are defective.
You will be erased.
But I love this world
and its nouns and its hates-
This brave noun world-
with such noun people-
I was doing what you asked.
Ada Hoffmann is the author of MONSTERS IN MY MIND. Her writing has appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and Uncanny. She is a graduate student in computer science who works on teaching computers to be creative, and her Autistic Book Party review series is devoted to autism representation in speculative fiction. You can find her online at http://ada-hoffmann.com/ or on Twitter at @xasymptote, or support her work at https://www.patreon.com/ada_hoffmann.