"Robot Cosplay" and "Letter from Sarayaku"

Robot Cosplay

Contrary to popular belief, many cosplayers (well over 98%) do not believe they are the characters they are "cosplaying" as.
—Urban Dictionary: “cosplay”


Occasionally, be sure to wear a hat
          with color
          the occasional feather
It’s not just the presence that matters
          It’s the putting on and taking of
          the color, the feather
          that will soften your steel

Break the straight line mimicking lips
          into three, the better
          to shift corners into smiles
          or (but rarely now) frowns
It’s a visual metaphor for an emotion
          that, yes, doesn’t exist for you
          But metaphors are better than
          nothing for softening your steel

Insert the necessary screws
          about your waist
          to allow you to bend
          forward and backward
To be human is to respond
          with attraction (bend forward)
          and repulsion (bend backward)
          thus, softening your steel

Replace the steel plate insides of arms
          with wire mesh
          better for cushioning
          a human you might need
          to embrace
Hugs reduce wars—
          a knowledge whose effects
          include softening your steel

Insert light bulbs behind eyes
          that can flicker on and off
          with light
Humans associate light with
          comfort viz warmth
          and their so-called “Biggie”: Love
          which can soften, nay, melt! steel

Last but not least, don’t forget
          what Bill Gates advocated:
          Pay taxes!
Don’t ever reveal your expertise in
          international tax havens
          capital expenditure amortizations
          cash flow deferrals or accelerants
          Knowledge hardens steel

To successfully take over
is to hide process

To successfully take over
requires immediate fait accompli!



Letter from Sarayaku

Ecuador’s government ignored the community’s refusal to sell oil-drilling rights and signed a contract in 1996 with the Argentinian oil company C.G.C. to explore for oil in Sarayaku. In 2003, C.G.C. petroleros—oil workers and private security guards—and Ecuadorian soldiers came by helicopter to lay explosives and dig test wells. // Sarayaku mobilized.


Brown as the earth from which you surfaced
we relished your skin as we washed each of you
We relished your skin as we peeled it off
each of you to reveal the color of the sun
We relished sunlight’s complexion as we sliced
your mud-kissed body into strips for our teeth
Our teeth chewed and chewed the slices
of your body, mixing them with our saliva
Our saliva was our contribution and warning
for those to whom we served your bodies
Knowing who we would serve, we spit enzymes for
your bodies into a bowl. Your bodies then fermented
for hours until your flesh became juice looking like
“defatted milk,” a surface evoking the sheen of cataracts,
apt for hearkening the blind men who sought oil from
our ground by destroying the source of the treasure
they desired. We chewed and bathed your bodies with
our saliva—we gave freely from our own bodies for we
should not protect from a distance. You are the source
of our lives: water, fruits and vegetables, insects, animals—
a jungle that deserves harmony from those to whom you
give life. So we thank you, Nature, for donating the cassavas.
With our spit, we created chicha for the petroleros. They
partied all night with your cassavas and our saliva.
When they woke, they woke to the muzzles of their guns
held strongly in our arms. Warned off our ancestral lands,
they never returned.  An ocean away, several years later,
a poem surfaces without addressing the torture, rape
and other suffering of the people, “especially mothers
and children.” Instead, focus alights on how nature and
humans cooperated for “sumac kawsay,” the presumption
one must live peacefully with the natural world and insist
nature has rights deserving of protection. Not only is this
a law of the jungle, it holds the key for the planet’s survival. 
“It’s not a big thing,” says a Sarayaku elder, his hair decorated
with blue bird wings. “It’s just                     to continue living.”


In 2008, Ecuador’s constitution became the first in the world to codify the rights of nature and specifically sumak kawsay. Bolivia’s constitution has a similar provision, and rights-of-nature ordinances have been passed in communities in the United States.



[after “Deep in the Amazon, a Tiny Tribe is Beating Big Oil” by David Goodman, Yes! Magazine, Spring 2015]



Eileen R. Tabios

Eileen R. Tabios has released over 60 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in 10 countries and cyberspace. In 2021, she released her first novel DoveLion: A Fairy Tale for Our Times and first French book La Vie erotique de l’art (trans. Samuel Rochery). Her unique body of work includes invention of the hay(na)ku, a 21st century diasporic poetic form, and the MDR Poetry Generator that can create poems totaling theoretical infinity, as well as a first poetry book, Beyond Life Sentences, which received the Philippines’ National Book Award for Poetry. Translated into 11 languages, she also has edited, co-edited or conceptualized 15 anthologies of poetry, fiction and essays. More information is at http://eileenrtabios.com


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, March 16, 2017 - 22:36