This poem evokes the attempt to make sense out of a conversation with a rambling street person in San Francisco, and its design and interface both contribute to that effect.
Lewis breaks up the line into words clustered together in a large font size to form a word cloud. The superposition of the gently rotating words create a dense, white, unreadable mass, which only makes sense around the edges as words are able to briefly break free into a space with better contrast. But just because you can’t read a word doesn’t mean it isn’t there: touching a word on the screen makes it appear along with the rest of the words in the line, by changing the font color to purple. One word in each line is a softer shade of purple and will follow your fingertip on the surface of the touchscreen.
The lines that emerge in this poem make sense in oblique ways and are held together more by physical proximity than by its non sequitur logic, yet they succeed in creating the voice of a character, one whose stream of consciousness patter can barely be guided by simply bringing up a word in their own speech.
With its word constellations, this second poem in Lewis’ P.o.E.M.M. project seems to be informed by a Concrete Poetry aesthetic, while the atomic deconstruction of the lines in “What They Speak When They Speak to Me” can be aligned with the Lettriste tradition.