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    Susan Scratched is the intersection of a poem I wrote and a program I wrote to help me write poems.
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Susan Scratched is a poem composed two ways. I wrote Susan in reaction to a painting, Portrait of a Lady by Rogier van der Weyden, and then I wrote a Python script Scratcher as a way to tell my computer how to collaborate with me in writing poetry. Susan Scratched is the intersection of these two pieces – the result of feeding Susan to Scratcher.
 
An essay I've written about this piece will soon appear in an anthology published by 0x0a in both German and English.
Susan Scratched
 
She reminds me of Susan in peaceful pain, eyes peaceful pain, eyes peaceful peaceful pain, eyes cast down, veiled, thinking hard about anything hard about anything else. She reminds about anything about anything else. anything else. She reminds me of Susan me of me of Susan blinded by of Susan blinded by salt water, like Susan in the Dead Sea. Susan with a red sash, Susan sash, Susan bisected by sash, sash, Susan Susan bisected by red. Susan, Susan, a white a white expanse with a red expanse with a red mouth. with a red red mouth. Susan with her red mouth. Susan mouth. Susan Susan with her with her hair pinned up. with her her hair pinned up. Susan up. Susan Susan at night, not really innocent, sipping cold water through through a straw, levitating straw, levitating like straw, straw, levitating like levitating like it was easy and setting the ground on setting the ground setting the ground the ground on fire, spreading the ground on the ground on ground on fire, spreading her arms. Susan Susan suggests bathing in Susan suggests bathing in milk. Susan only milk. Susan only milk. Susan Susan only eats fish or rice or white orrice or rice or white vegetables. white vegetables. She’s good at white vegetables. vegetables. She’s good at cards, her handwriting’s her handwriting’s handwriting’s terrible, and she whistles low when fine young fine young fine young men young men pass near. Susan is a noble fever, watching is a noble fever, is a noble fever, watching a noble fever, watching a noble fever, noble fever, watching the sky for days watching watching the sky for days for signs of migrations, keeping an migrations, migrations, keeping an ear keeping an ear to the ground. ground. Susan likes to terrorize Susan likes Susan likes to Susan likes to terrorize likes to terrorize the boys with terrorize the boys terrorize terrorize the the the boys with the boys with the boys with sideways boys with sideways boys with sideways with sideways glances and she doesn’t need a wasp waist or a wide waist or a a wide smile. Susan wide smile. Susan wrapped smile. Susan smile. Susan wrapped Susan wrapped in Susan wrapped in black, wrapped in black, in black, in black, holding her black, holding her hands, counting her rings, counting her rings, singing, singing, ears ringing, clinking singing, ears singing, ears ringing, ears ringing, clinking spoons on ears ringing, ears ringing, clinking spoons on ringing, clinking ringing, clinking spoons ringing, clinking spoons ringing, clinking clinking spoons on porcelain, lips moving.
Portrait of a Lady by Rogier van der Weyden, c. 1460
Code

What does the code do? It’s rather simple and acts a bit like a DJ scratching  record. It crawls through the input text and at every word it rolls the dice to answer the question, will I scratch here? If not, it moves to the next word and continues to ask that question. If it does decide to scratch, then it first decides how many times it will scratch. Each time it does a scratch, it decides how many words that scratch will include. When it has finished scratching at a point, it will continue to the next word in the original poem and continue to ask whether it will scratch at that point.
 
The python code can be found on GitHub.
Susan (or Susan Unscratched)
 
She reminds me of Susan in peaceful pain, eyes cast down, veiled, thinking hard about anything else.
She reminds me of Susan blinded by salt water, like Susan in the Dead Sea.
Susan with a red sash, Susan bisected by red.
Susan, a white expanse with a red mouth.
Susan with her hair pinned up.
Susan at night, not really innocent, sipping cold water through a straw,
levitating like it was easy and setting the ground on fire, spreading her arms.
Susan suggests bathing in milk. Susan only eats fish or rice or white vegetables.
She’s good at cards, her handwriting’s terrible, and she whistles low when fine young men pass near.
Susan is a noble fever, watching the sky for days for signs of migrations, keeping an ear to the ground.
Susan likes to terrorize the boys with sideways glances
and she doesn’t need a wasp waist or a wide smile.
Susan wrapped in black, holding her hands,
counting her rings, singing, ears ringing, clinking spoons on porcelain, lips moving.