by Kurt Luchs
My Personal Doom
They say the universe is either made up of numbers,
information or tiny bits of energy vibrating
like mental patients receiving electroshock therapy.
Well, I wish they’d make up their minds,
the people who say those things, I mean, not
the mental patients, if indeed
there’s a difference. Myself,
I’m not sure of much of anything
except the gravity that hugs me to mother earth
and keeps me from flying off into space,
incinerating in the upper atmosphere
like a shooting star in reverse,
a retroactive meteor shower.
Surely there must be some value to even
the smallest death, my personal doom
included. High above us a million such stray
celestial objects continue their clockwork walks
through the deep sky, inexorably inching
their way toward an appointed encounter
with our home world. They say
it won’t be pretty, and for once
I agree with them, if only because
we won’t be far enough away to objectively appreciate
the beauty of it. Aesthetics can be
so confusing when they hang on the spectral light
of billions of smoldering human souls. Sorry, I seem
to have strayed from the subject, which is
my personal doom. For the record,
her name is Roberta, and she takes the shape
of life and death, of Alpha and Omega, of stars
and those of us they fall upon,
no numbers, no information, just pure energy
and already I can feel myself beginning to vibrate
for there are worse things
than going out in a blaze of glory.
Looking into a Face
“There is no excellent beauty without
some strangeness in the proportion,”
said Francis Bacon,
which beats to hell anything
I could come up with.
He was probably looking in the mirror
when that line came to him
and I like to think maybe
he cut himself shaving, but I’m looking
into a face I love.
While I could happily praise your eyes, gazing into me
it would have to be
one at a time,
they are so different.
Meanwhile we are somewhat preoccupied
with me in you
and you under and around me and time
coming to a halt as it does
our faces so different
from each other and even from
twin parts of themselves, yet the parts
and the whole cannot begin to be sung.
We prefer a broken symmetry,
who knows why,
like the one they say
began the universe,
matter and antimatter annihilating each other
at ever so slightly different rates
and the tiny extra bit of matter left over
making everything that was and is and will be,
you and me,
faces and eyes,
bodies into bodies, broken
world without end.
According to the doctor I am suffering
from extreme kinetosis,
that is to say motion sickness,
usually fatal in its advanced stages
like everything else.
I wasn’t surprised;
it’s on both sides of the family.
I thanked him, gave him my life savings
and crawled down the steps one at a time.
Three hours later I hailed a passing wheelchair.
I’ve had to give up speed reading and fast women
and especially sleep,
each day I petition to stop the rotation
of the earth on its axis,
I vote to abolish elevators,
my hovercraft is up for sale.
I insist in a quiet way on my right to face the wall.
The doctor assures me I am suffering
from extreme kinetosis
or perhaps I am merely suffering.
The Germ of an Idea
The world as we know
it is full of bacteria,
like the kind that crowds between lips
to keep the word “love” from entering or escaping,
or the kind that eats our meals
and digests them for us,
or the kind we elect to the presidency,
after which we must invent vaccines
to protect the innocent, who are also
a form of bacteria,
even our literature,
which will soon become infested with this theme,
is written of the bacteria, by the bacteria
and for the bacteria,
who shall not perish from the earth,
as witness the gentle billions of bacilli that
have grouped themselves selflessly together
to form the letters of this
letter to them.
Would you like to join our focus group?
Our corporate sponsor prefers to remain anonymous,
Though you’d recognize their name if you were a blood spatter expert
With knowledge of ancient Sumerian death rituals.
They hope to learn how long a man
Can scream under water before he realizes no help is coming
And that whatever is about to devour him will soon be
Swallowed whole by something even bigger.
Would you like to take part? This prestige research project
Is sure to change the way we look at the soul
As it separates from the mortified flesh like a puffball mushroom
Exploding at midnight in the forest.
Our focus group needs you, and you, and you, if only
Because the digging will go so much faster, and the placing of stones,
And the numbering of atrocities will add up to so much more
Than the square root of a charred and paralytic zero.