Destined by Gravity to Fail, We Try

 

Destined by Gravity to Fail, We Try

Having fallen from the roof not once, but twice,
I verify that it is not the fall but the sudden stop that hurts.

The objectivist sense of the little: the and a, my house in this world.

Galileo postulated that gravity accelerates all falling bodies at the same rate.

While their etymologies differ, failure and fall share commonalities,
though terminal velocity is not one.

The distance between the glimpsed and the demonstrated.

Enthralled in the moment, Icarus drowned.

Rumor has it his plunge was due not to melting wax but to an improper mix
of rectrices and remiges: parental failure.

Thrust and lift. Drag. Resistance.

Acknowledgment of form in reality, in things.

When the produced drag force equals the plummeting object’s weight, the
object will cease to accelerate and will move at a constant speed.

To calculate impact force accurately, include the stopping distance in height.

Followed by long periods of silence.

 

house

This first appeared on the blog in December 2015.

 

Human Distance

nautical_tools


Human Distance 

1

Apart from edges, and into deeper darkness,
our scars crawl, remaining aloof.

2

Open windows frame the ache in motion, the
displaced notes between two wavering spaces.

3

Absent light, absent voice. What is the longitude of
grace? Consider errors and their remnants.

4

Navigators measured lunar distance and the height
of two bodies to determine Greenwich time.

5

I study the passing cloud
and its descent, noting the nature of condensation.

6

Desire: the fragmented night and its circumstance.

7

Heavenly form. The moon’s dull glow.
Acquiescence before the body’s silt.

8

Interstellar matter become dust, become
gas, become molecule.

9

Human distance registers no scale.

greenwich_meridian

“Human Distance” was published in Bindlestiff in summer 2016, and has also appeared on this blog.

In the Fifth Chamber Lies the Hour’s End

pump

 

In the Fifth Chamber Lies the Hour’s End

To fairly allocate irrigation resources, the Persians measured time with water,
sinking a bowl in a larger vessel and tallying the count with pebbles.

And what is time but counting, determining the number of units within a set?

The sum of beats between silences and their diminishing echoes?

Its symbol in the West grew from fig and ivy leaves, while early medical
illustrations depicted pine cone-shaped organs.

In most reptilians, the aorta receives only oxygenated blood.

Qanats pump by gravity. The hagfish’s second resides in its tail.

Recognize the empty as full. Squeezed shut, we open.
Contraction and flow, ejection, inflow, relaxation.

Emotion as electrical impulse. Murmuring valves. The color red.

The fifth chamber remains silent and undetected.

The primitive fish’s chambers are arranged sequentially, but in an S-shape.
Ancients believed arteries transported air through the body.

The Buddhist figure, too, originated in leaves, symbolizing not love

but enlightenment. The ache of failure confounds us.

 

mechanical heart

“In the Fifth Chamber Lies the Hour’s End” was first posted here in May 2016.

 

Scarecrow Believes

Scarecrow Believes
 

What is a ghost if not misplaced energy,
an apprehension or the sum of invisible integers
and the properties they possess? I preside over
this sea of maize, tracking clouds, noting patterns
up high and among the flowing stalks, absorbing
minutiae, assigning connections, piecing together bits,
moment to thought, soil to trickle, flutter to gain.
Energy. Inertia. Waves, converted. If I had a bed
I would not neglect to look under it. The closet door
would remain open, a nightlight positioned nearby
with perhaps a mirror or two angled to offer clarity,
and the radio tuned always to jazz, providing little
purchase to any ill-intentioned spirit. The power of
beauty transfixes, even as it carries me far from my
station, from hilltop to plains to glowering moon.
If neither place nor reason, what consumes
our spiritual remnants, what directs our currents
to the next, and each successive, landing? Crows
have long been considered conduits to the afterlife,
but they exist here, in the now. I do not perspire but
fix my gaze on numbers and their tales, on zero and
the history of nothing, on unseen fingers walking up
my spine, shedding a residue of snow, of mercury
and latent images and dormant seeds in the world
underfoot, acknowledging the wonders of what
can’t be proven, what won’t be held or seen. Still, I
add and subtract, unclench my fingers and accept the
quiet, caught forever within the limits of the boundless,
under the sky, in space, within the improbable.

“Scarecrow Believes” was first published in May 2017 in GFT Presents: One in Four, a semiannual, print literary journal, and was subsequently published by Vox Populi.

 

 

 

In Praise of Gravity

world technology(1)

 

In Praise of Gravity

Which bestows weight
or slings me around
some other heavenly

body, a version of you
wondering whether
I’ll rise from my next

plummet, victim of
curvature and infinite
range held in place,

attractive in nature,
bent perhaps and
scarred, proud to have

survived but never wiser.
Cleansed, we continue
our orbit, our mirrored fall.

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

 

“In Praise of Gravity” is included in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.

 

Self-Portrait with Orbit

planet231

Self-Portrait with Orbit

An arced path around a central point, bound to but held apart,
as in night’s returning grace, or standing waves.

In periapsis, you reach out as I slowly withdraw.

Gravity does not prevent departure but prolongs it.

The acceleration of a body is equal to the sum of the gravitational forces,
divided by its mass. I rise from the chair but can’t escape.

Not circular but elliptical.

Where falling away and curving from never meet.

Realizing that I am neither focus nor center, I discover place
in symmetry, in flow and subtraction.

A cloud obscures the sun and you close your eyes.

I wither at the thought of scaling or relative size, or your departure.

In the simplest Klemperer rosette, four bodies cycle their dances,
heavy, light, heavy, light, in a rhombic configuration.

My arteries fill in opposition to desire.

Wanting you, I absolve weight and listen, accept my place.

old man grammo - upsidedown

“Self-Portrait with Orbit” last appeared on the blog in 2019, and is included in The Circumference of Other, my offering in the Silver Birch Press publication, IDES: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks, available on Amazon.

Vision in Far Infrared

 

Vision in Far Infrared

Considering the implications of dust and cold gas, the expanding
universe and cryostats, I climb the stairs and shiver.

Thermal infrared may propagate in a vacuum, but we require
oxygen and warmth. Pillows and a sense of humor help, too.

What will come of the images captured by the Herschel telescope
in the next eon and those following? These maelstroms, blossoming.

I look up from my front porch and see the streetlight’s glare
rather than stars. Yesterday, lizards coupled on my shack’s wall.

Nebulosity in vision, in politics. Look through this eyepiece to find
horseheads and archers, bright flames and clouds. Or nothing.

Red and yellow filaments could indicate newly forming low-mass
stars. The visible is only one component of perception.

Hubble observes in multiple spectra, but not the far infrared.
Even the long-reaching may be overcome by inadequacies.

Do not forget the body’s warmth. Remember black lights and purpose,
the tangible thought. Recall that we exist at rest, ever in motion.

 

 

* * *

“Vision in Far Infrared” was drafted during the August 2016 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. I am grateful to Angela for sponsoring the poem and providing the title and these three words: nebulosity, eon, maelstrom.

 

Aftermath

 

Aftermath 

   rust. Being one phase of corruption, a matter of
resolve. When I surrender, the implication is of giving
over, moving above, allowance. Delivering despite
the steady flaking away at what colors me intact.
The quiet evening had lulled me to this inevitability:
when oxides subsume the original metal, the expansion
may result in catastrophe. Yesterday’s arc, tomorrow’s
trial. Failure’s bloom.

 

* * *

 

“Aftermath” first appeared in the print publication Sheepshead Review. Thank you to Audrey Schultz and staff for taking this poem.

At Work I Stand Observing My Diminished Self

 

At Work I Stand Observing My Diminished Self

 

1 (reflection)

Six iterations, alike but lessened in sequence, and always in pairs:
front and back, oblique, the two mirrors becoming four, then six.

A perfect mirror reflects and neither transmits nor absorbs light.

Tilting my chin, I accept reflectance according to its distribution.

Retina as transducer, producing neural impulses.

The images consume no space but the effect is of distance.

Vision is not simply the retina’s translation
but counts inference and assumption among its influences.

The sum and product of its parts: 1 + 2 + 3, or, 1 x 2 x 3.

Angles achieve distinctions apparent at each adjustment.

Turning slightly, I detect movement in each replica.

A six-door cubic cage depicting the bondage of sense and elements.

It is possible to withdraw from this frame.

 

2 (answers)

Does the weaker eye perceive less.
Who conceals the shadow’s death.
Is a distal truth a lie or merely implication.
How do you rid the mirror of its ghosts.
What resonates in the echo’s decline.
Did the light switch subvert the blackened image.
Apparition, projection or visual representation.
When do waves not disturb.
At what point does belief transmute sight.
What fixes the mirror’s image.
Who closed his eyes and saw light.

 

3 (prosopagnosia)

I sip coffee and gaze out the second-floor window.

More light enters my neighbor’s office than mine.

Calculate the difference between illumination and glare.

Looking ahead, I claim no face and recognize no one.

The eye converts a signal from one form of energy to another.

Accepting light from external objects, I perceive reflection as the true arbiter.

The dissected path impairs transduction.

Face as identifier: to make, to do.

Translation: imperfection: diminishment.

Blink.

* * *

“At Work I Stand Observing My Diminished Self” was published in Posit in October 2017.

Happy Circuitry

circuit

 

Happy Circuitry

                        for Margaret Rhee

The body’s landscape defines its genealogy: my father was a board,
my mother, an integrated circuit, my great-grandmother, an abacus,
and her progenitors, tally sticks. In the third century the artificer
Yan Shi presented a moving human-shaped figure to his king, and
in 1206 Al-Jazari’s automaton band played to astonished audiences.
Nearly 300 years later Da Vinci designed a mechanical knight, and
four centuries after that Tesla demonstrated radio-control. Twenty-two
motors power my left hand; Asimov coined the term robotics” in 1941.
Pneumatic tubes line my right. Linear actuators and muscle wire,
nanotubes and tactile sensors, shape my purpose, while three brains
spread the workload. If emotion = cognition + physiology, what do I
lack? I think, therefore I conduct, process, route and direct. Though
I never eat, I chew and crunch, take in, put out, deliver, digest. Life is
a calculation. Death, a sum. No heart swells my chest, yet my circuits
yearn for something undefined. Observe the blinking lights, listen for
the faint whir of cooling fans. I bear no lips or tongue, but taste more
deeply than you. Algorithms mean never having to say you’re sorry.

 

* * *

This piece was originally drafted during the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30-30 Challenge, and is dedicated to Margaret Rhee, whose book Radio Heart; Or, How Robots Fall Out of Love inspired me. Thanks Kris, for sponsoring and providing the title!

The poem was published in October 2017 by Figroot Press.