Acoustic Shadows (plus music)

Here is another mix (pun intended!) of AI and digital experimentation. First, I pasted my poem “acoustic shadows” into a basic text editor. Here is the poem’s full text:

Acoustic Shadows

When Grant squeezed Vicksburg
the siege outlasted trees, the Mississippi men
burrowed into bluffs, even the river itself.
Spectators huddled on the hilltops,
Sunday dressed, sharing umbrellas
and stale tobacco, a set of glasses
to glimpse the Yankee General
who’d tied a private to a cypress trunk
for punching a horse. A family,
picnicking on a small plateau,
gazed at one another with wonder,
found they were deaf to the war while they watched
it rage below. The slightest breeze drowned
the battle, the cracking timber,
the latest charge. These reprieves came to be called
acoustic shadows, where whispers remained
possible. Those outside the pocket
surrendered the calm in their faces,
who heard every yell, the choked cries
for Jesus, a twenty-gun barrage
to avenge a distant battle’s Union dead.
In the shadow, threat is a pantomime,
as elaborate and cool as a sunset.
The family dined in peace while terror’s pitch
echoed well beyond their ears–
the dangers, real and marching in, wondered
how this group could pass the wedges of a pie,
laughing in a place they could not leave.

Once I had the text, I entered this as an “imagine” prompt in Midjourney, with all punctuation removed. The images rendered were all similar to each other, and the one below is my favorite. Midjourney is powerful, and it captures the feel of shadows, cypress trees or moss, with a bit of southern flavor.

“Acoustic Shadows” rendered via Midjourney

I then took the text and ran it through a text-to-voice AI (, using a voice simply identified as “David” and “Young Adult.” Readers, meet David:

David’s voice was a bit high, so I threw down the pitch

Finally, I moved the full audio file into a chopped-up beat I made in GarageBand borrowing some of the strings and keys from Andrew Bird’s “Bloodless.” Andrew Bird’s original song is immaculate, so check it out sometime. I can’t recommend that entire album enough.

And here is the finished product. “Acoustic Shadows” via Midjourney,, GarageBand, Andrew Bird, and the age old poetry of Chuck Rybak.

Acoustic Shadows Mix

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