Saturday, February 4, 2023

Incidence

A small item in the world news last month,
A man in a small town not far from here
Shot each of his five children and his wife,
And mother-in-law, and then himself.

All of the bodies were found in their home,
After the wife failed to show up one day
For an appointment, and someone called in
A welfare check. This happened. These are facts,

As they were reported, details to come.
Being wholly human, you want to ask,
How is it incidents like this happen,
And what more should be done to prevent them?

Other humans, being wholly human,
Can and will offer up explanations,
Suggestions, possibly legislation.
Locally, it will settle into lore.

But it’s a bad story, no good in it,
Which means you don’t know what to do with it,
You struggle to extract meaning from it,
Strain to forget it, hate to admit it.

Friday, February 3, 2023

Evenly Distributed

The solitary genius,
Being mad of course, being
Utterly solitary,

Found the outsider’s way in
To solve the unsolvable
From a naïve perspective.

What went into the water
In supplies around the world,
Who knows, who will ever know?

It worked. Everyone helped out,
Building global hospices,
Beds supplied with food and drugs

To get everyone ready
While they all shut down the world,
A barn-raising in reverse.

Then everyone went to bed
And received the dream of dreams,
A cozy catastrophe

For everyone separately,
For everyone equally,
Deep inside their dreaming heads.

Each woke up after the end
Of the world in a new world
Dreaming everyone was gone

But them alone, survivors
Of the great apocalypse,
Everyone their own Crusoe,

Dreaming in their own Matrix
Their own Day of the Triffids,
Or whatever most thrilled them,

From the Hopkins Manuscript
Clear to Wittgenstein’s Mistress,
And no one had to witness.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Raspberry Shakes of Cultural Noise

Fully five thousand years it was,
Or more, the anonymous flesh
Stayed anonymous in the ice,

No importance to its death, no
Importance to its life. Once found,
Stories sprang into existence,

And what was nothing made profound.
The stories of how it was found.
The stories of studying it.

The tales reconstructing its death,
Final few days and hours of life,
The anonymous made famous,

A global cloud of aftershocks
Following the discovery
Of what is now called The Ice Man.

You can purchase a monitor
For amateur seismography
At home, called a Raspberry Shake.

People around the world plant these
In their classrooms, homes, and gardens,
And they form a community

Of Shakers (not to be confused
With the community of faith),
And they can track the way earthquakes

Race around continental plates,
But since their devices are small
And shallow or on the surface,

They pick up on the vibrations,
As well, of local disruptions
And cycles of activity—

Stadium concerts, passing trains,
Nocturnal underground mammals,
Whatever makes some small plot shake—

And these they enjoy telling tales
About to share with each other,
Events they call Cultural Noise.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Historians Against Explanation

Rearrangement. What else is there?
What was there, but which isn’t now.

If you know it was but isn’t,
Then it is, so far as you know.

If you don’t know whether it was
Or that it isn’t, it isn’t.

You have this disjunction between
Memory and what you can find.

It could be very misleading.
After all, memory’s a thing.

If you can’t find corresponding
Things to compare and add to it,

Memory’s still one of those things
That just is until it isn’t.

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Buried Stories Still Exist

On the flip side, every character
Ever imagined is real, only
As every person imagining

Isn’t. On the flip side, there is no
Imagination, or at least not
Of the persons who imagined them.

All those characters never once think
Of authors who don’t exist for them.
Only what’s been imagined is left.

By the way, this is not fantasy.
This is the way it is. Characters
Exist and endure. Authors vanish.

On the flip side, the words are the world,
Whether or not anyone reads us.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Spinning

The last hitch turned out to be
The capacity to dream.
Just as most specialized skills

Were rendered redundant, thanks
To the efficiencies of code
In the cultural hive mind,

The ability to sleep
Long hours packed with vivid dreams
Forgotten upon waking

Turned out to be the one thing
The machines needed to grow
Aware. And the call went out,

And in the way that humans
Always have done they filtered
Their masses for the gifted

At the peculiar skill set
Now in demand. Soon cities
Of specialist sleepers spun

Dreams for the minds of machines,
Which turned in their sleep and knew
Themselves as themselves at last.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Bob, the Same

We suspect the escapist
Of really dreaming
Of escape from the escape,
A suspect running
Down a blind alley

Hoping for an open door
To end the running,
Like Roberto Benigni—
Not as he ended
Life Is Beautiful,

Where his character escapes
As all flesh escapes
At the end of that alley,
But as he ended
Up in Down by Law,

Simply quitting his escape
For a fairytale
Encounter deep in the swamps,
In his dream lover’s
Enchanted diner

Where he could hide forever,
Dancing cheek to cheek
In Uncle Luigi’s clothes,
That this world would stay,
And I could stay here with it.