And the word of the year is….

I’m looking at the words line up,
each word corralled for further scrutiny.
We, pronouncing each,
puzzle over preferences for
one word,
one utterance summing up turmoils
and triumphs for this past year.

Step forward, authentic.
We visualize the presence of reality, listen to the actual,
not false, to voice and self’s presence
without doctoring, without AI’s help.

Next, the charming rizz, what we all have
needed more of, charisma’s relative,
perhaps an antidote to clumsy chatter’s
disregard for romance.

Illusory, but stepping forward, we think
deepfake appears, it seems, without
it’s being altered, without its presence
as something it’s not.

Clinging to each other, as if they’re
not quite sure of their identity,
are chatbot, GPT, generative AI,
virtually indistinguishable.
Last to rise up, as if we’re dreaming it,
hallucinate materializes reminding us
all we’re listening to may not be real,
but a semblance of our wandering minds.

While we wrestle with the naming of
just one among these many,
we conjure up conjoining
authentic with hallucinate,

as this year ends with words
we hope stem from our lived experience,
yet know that some of what we read and say
is both authentic and dreamed of, like peace and joy.

About the Poem

I noticed that Merriam-Webster chose ‘authentic’ as its Word of the Year 2023 but that chose ‘hallucinate’. I read more about each of the contenders and wrote a poem about the ways we are pulled by both words this particular year.

About the Author

Barbara Simmons, is a Boston-born Californian, a Wellesley College and The Writing Seminars (Johns Hopkins) alumna, and a retired educator. She savors life with words to remember, envision, celebrate, mourn, and understand. Publications include Boston Accent, Topical Poetry, DoubleSpeak, Soul-Lit, Capsule Stories, Journal of Expressive Writing, Capsule Stories, and Writing it Real publications. She was recognized with First Place in the last two annual San Jose Library Spring into Poetry contests and has published a book of poetry, Offertories: Exclamations and Disequilibriums (Friesen Press), 2022.

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