Ten Mobile Texts
five stories, an aubade, an epic, a sestina, a lipogram, and a ballad for Short Message Service by Nick Montfort
Mouse into the space after a text to read the note about that text.
OPPOSITE DAY: The northwestern people have an odd custom of changing, master and servant, child and parent. They have just become spaces and words.
Like the other nine texts offered here, this one is designed to be sent via SMS. It fits within the 160-character limit for such messages. (Some mobile phone text messaging systems or interfaces have more austere limits; some of these texts will have to be abridged to be sent using those systems.) These texts can be typed in or copied and pasted into a Web-based SMS interface such as my-cool-sms.com.
THE ACT: "I can't believe that you're making me do this," said the mime.
Some attempt at framing seems important, even in this sort of context. The all-caps titles are an attempt to signal that these are not typical SMS messages sent for the usual purposes.
BUFFALO BUFFALO: Jim saw the man with the telescope lose his lunch which bothered him. He realized what he needed: the coin dropped down the well.
A MINIMAL LIFE: Newton was a young man. Then, he devoted his life to wondrous discoveries, such as the calculus. As a result, he was an elderly virgin.
A "minimal story" is a narratological concept devised by Gerald Prince in 1973. Such a story, like this one, has only an initial state, a single event, and a final state.
MY TYPE: "u hot," Jo texted. "u2," replied Al. Once more, they glanced at each other across the reading room.
For the most part I avoided writing about the text messaging process itself and using the stereotypical dialect of the form, but, evidently, I didn't avoid this entirely.
AUBADE: Your face and form/Send all the light/I need, and warm/The lovely night./But rising day/Brings heavy heart./If I could stay .../Nope. We must part.
The aubade, a song at dawn, seems particularly appropriate for the mobile phone, especially if your plan allows for free "evening" text messaging — this period extends through the break of day.
EPIC: Sometimes contending clouds will cloak the earth/And flood the ground for weeks; uprooting trees,/They make the sky a forge. Like that they fought.
It's rather meaningless to use the SMS format as a constraint if you're going to write a haiku — that's like constraining yourself to use a letter-sized sheet of paper as you write a sonnet. I was more interested in writing SMS texts that are in longer forms, ones that typically produce poems of much more than 160 characters.
SESTINA: I row my boat in dream. Dream I - in row boat? My! My dream boat I row in. In my row dream I boat. Boat in, I my dream row, row boat dream in my eye.
Some forms need a bit of adaptation to allow for poems of 160 characters or less.
A MAD DADA DATA JAM: mamma at pawpaw. adam at madam. pat pajama. add a paw. aw. a tad damp. wad pajama. mama gap. apt twat. dam maw. wag jaw. wagamama.
Becuase this text uses only the eight letters (a, d, g, j, m, p, t, and w) that appear first on the digits 2-9, along with "." and " ", it can be typed on a standard phone keypad without predictive text entry very quickly, without pressing any key more than once in sequence.
ALAIN ROBERT,/Called "Spiderman,"/Climbed Tour Eiffel./Conquering fears,/Alain Robert/Climbed Tour Sears/And was handcuffed./On Arche Defense/He had enough.
Can all the important work of the ballad be done in 160 characters, encoding the essential (and true) story of a French daredevil climber? This is an attempt at this challenge.
This work is dedicated to the Public Domain