Poem-O-Matic

Added on by Melody Santiago.

As anyone who lives in a sprawling, rapidly-growing city like Miami can tell you, traffic can be a pain. Tonight, said traffic was giving a royal headache as it caused me to miss most of O, Miami’s annual Under the Influence event, where poets Campbell McGrath, Kevin Young, and Melanie Almeder shared poems that inspire them to write.

While I missed most of the festivities, I did get a chance to focus on one of the projects developed for this year's festival, perched curiously in the lobby of the Art Deco Museum. I spied a small wooden box on a ledge above the complimentary cans of Perrier. The box would have been so nondescript as to be ignored were it not for its lone red button on top and a metal inlay of the O, Miami logo on its front. 

Photos by Gesi Schilling

Photos by Gesi Schilling

Feeling a little like Alice in Wonderland, I decided to press the button to see what would happen. Unlike her, I wasn’t disappointed. The box turned out to be the Poem-O-Matic, a project created by self-described, “Dad, Hacker (Maker), Musician and Boy Scout,” Mario Cruz. Built on a RaspberryPi computer platform, this friendly “bot in a box” was programmed to print a keepsake poem for you when you pressed the irresistible red button. As the machine whirred out my little strip of verse, I realized that it was one of McGrath’s own pieces, no doubt in honor of the occasion:

Capitalist Poem No. 5
I was at the 7-11.
I ate a burrito.
I drank a Slurpee.
I was tired. It was late,
after work—washing dishes.
The burrito was good.
I had another.

I did it every day for a week.
I did it every day for a month.


There are 7-11s
all across the nation.

On the way out I bought
a quart of beer for $1.39.
I was aware of social injustice
in only the vaguest possible way.

Now if someone asks me if I enjoyed the event, I can honestly answer yes, and show ‘em the receipt.

Clidiane Aubourg is a writer living in Miami, Fl. She will be contributing blog posts for O, Miami Poetry Festival 2016