THE BLINK

In the elemental scheme of things
we humans are, at best, middling.
We are minute in the scale of the universe,
our time not even a glimmer, and
as we age, time contracts, but only
in the shortening forward direction.
But pity the poor hydrogen-7 isotope
whose life is likely over
in 30 yactoseconds, absorbing
the laughter of helium-5 living
on average, 33 times longer, and both
jealously, if ever so quickly
regarding our seemingly infinite span.
But lest we get complacent, there is
always zirconium-96 for whom
our life is but the blink of an eye,
barely worth noting, a second at most
in a span that could reach
twenty quintillion years, so we
are nothing special, save in our own eyes.

WHAT IS IT NOW, PILGRIM?

It is far past time that I
went on a pilgrimage.
I’m not at all sure just what sort
of a pilgrim I’d likely be.
As a now Buddhist child
of the late 60’s, the Plymouth Colony
model clearly isn’t workable.
And in my own late 60’s, now
with a fused spine and creaky
knees and shoulders, foreign travel
looks less and less of an option.
I’ve long since given up acid
and mescaline, and I never got
the hang of astral projection,
so perhaps I need to think smaller
and just wander over to my local
wine shop for a couple of bottles
of a decent Rioja and Galicia
and dreams of the Camino de Santiago.

WALKING

Today was downright exhausting,
and my hour long walk along the river
left me dripping and drooping.
It wasn’t different than most days,
same time, same place, and
the usual 756 miles, according
to my old friend Orion, who
was watching from his usual perch,
unseen, as he prefers it by day.
When I was done, I started to complain
about how I felt, when Orion interjected,
“Just be thankful you’re not
in Florida today, its hotter by far,
and your usual walk would
have covered a full 930 miles today,
and there you’d have reason
perhaps to complain just a bit.”
Heading home to shower, I
called out to Orion, “You know
you are one heavenly pain in the ass.”
“Yeah,” he replied, “that’s what Artemis said.”

OH, REALLY?

The box said all natural.
That alone was nothing unusual,
but it was on tomatoes.
How, he wondered, could tomatoes
but unnatural, or worse still
partially natural, partially not.
Had they cloned the tomato?
Would cloning make it unnatural,
and if so, how could you tell it
from the original which was natural?
And these weren’t organic.
He began to wonder how tomatoes
could be inorganic.
Wouldn’t they cease to be tomatoes?
It was all too confusing
and he was hungry
but all he had was tomatoes
and those he could no longer trust.

ASKED AND ANSWERED

This morning I made the mistake
of asking where the coffee beans were.
My spouse didn’t hear me, but Siri
offered her opinion, leaning toward Guatemala.
That didn’t set well with Alexa
who said they were either in the cabinet
over the stove, of in Papua New Guinea,
since she prefers lower acidic coffee.
Probably unsurprising, but Siri did
not take well to being corrected,
and got into it with Alexa, and I
was left trying to interject, being ignored.
I asked the Google Voice Assistant to intercede,
but it only wanted to know which voice
I wanted it to speak with, and
then froze completely awaiting my answer.

CHECKOUT LINE

Time seems frozen in the checkout line
stuck between the Mars bars
and the tabloids, you wonder
how Liz could survive a total body
liposuction, and further details of how
OJ killed in a moment of lust.
The old woman in front rummages
in her change purse certain she has
the eighty seven cents, the coins
lost in a blue haze reflected off her hair.
Two aisles over the young mother
her jaw clenched in frustration
keeps putting the life savers back
on the shelf as her child, fidgeting
in the cart grabs another roll, until
she shouts and slaps his hand.
His cry draws stares from all and she
stares at the floor as he grabs
a Three Musketeers and Certs.
A man in the express line swears
that the apples were marked 89 cents
and wants to see the manager
who calmly explains that Granny Smiths
are a dollar twenty nine and only small
Macintoshes are on sale this week.
He puts the bag on the scale
and stalks out of the store.
I would shift to the express lane
but I have 16 items and must
continue to wait and wonder
how many incisions it would take
for a full body liposuction.


Previously appeared in Kimera: A Journal of Fine Writing, Vol. 3, No.2, 1998 and in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press, 2008

HAIRY DOG

He says you have no idea how bad this hangover is,
and I have to agree with him. You cannot imagine how
much it hurts to even think of moving my head right now,
he says weakly and I choose not to argue the point.
Why did you let me drink so much, he says, and when I
remind him I wasn’t there last night, he says, I was
speaking to myself. He says he would like some hair
of the dog that bit him. I tell him that it may take
some time to find a dog with so little sense or taste.