“Trying to explain photography and its art may be more difficult than explaining particle physics.” That was his opinion, and one he deeply held and shared freely to all who would listen or could not escape him. “After all,” he said, “you can draw pictures to illustrate particle physics, and far too many have done so, but the art of photography involves a mental process and only psychiatrists believe they can draw pictures to probe that. And,” he concluded, “one thing is certain, there is no art in the least in any Rorschach Blots I have ever been shown, and I have been shown many.”
The universe is populated
by an as yet unknown
number of black holes,
points of hyper-
density whose gravity
is so great that
too close can
or so we were
there is hope
for escape, some
to the event
into the universe.
In the black
hole that was
I, luckily, proved
to be that
For a reasonable sum,
I can have a star named after me,
and get a certificate suitable
for framing declaring it so.
I’d like to buy a group of stars
in relatively close proximity
each to the others, and rather
than naming each after me,
I’d name the lot with one name,
my personal constellation,
perhaps Buddhist, the sky could
use a Bodhisattva of Absurdity.
But with my luck, the only thing
my stars would frame would be
a sea slug or a millipede and
I’ll pass on that for eternity.
It should give you pause
to consider that, in the midst
of boundless greed, enmeshed
in the near cult of self, rushing
always to go nowhere quickly,
certain the problems of the world,
can be solved tomorrow, using
resources that may never be
replenished or substituted for,
when we are dead and buried,
we will be the fossil fuels
that future generations
rightfully shun in horror.
This morning, I am certain
the earth pulled me down more strongly,
as though gravity needed to reassert itself,
having lost someone in its grip
to the virus, a common complaint
as we stumble through still another year.
I fought it off course, the birds
in the wetland at once admiring
my effort and laughing at what they knew
would ultimately be a futile gesture.
You belong to the earth, they said,
you arose from it, are bound to it
and it is a matter of time before
it reclaims you as it does with all.
It was easier, they added, in ancient days,
when the gods truly cared, for then
you need only sufficiently irritate them
before they would sever your earthy bonds
to serve eternity in a celestial prison.
It is a strange feeling to discover that you
have been made a liar by your own DNA.
For years I was Jewish to the core, half
at least Sephardic, Portuguese, and that
not merely extracted but fully blooded.
My diet at Passover expanded greatly,
no longer dictated by Northerners who
easily banned that which they did not grow.
But inquisitiveness got the better of me,
and I learned, and disbelieved, that only
half of me was Jewish, half a polygot
of other faiths, no Sephardic in sight.
It wasn’t as painful as you might imagine,
for I had given up my Judaism well
before the discovery, so what was lost
was no longer mine by claim or right.
It is strange feeling to discover that you
have been made a whole person by your DNA.
On the worst day, of the worst
week, or even just a day, like most
that did not go the way you want,
step outside at night if the sky is clear
and stare upwards at the universe.
Realize that you are seeing
more than a monumental collection
of celestial bodies, that you are
experiencing so much history,
and moments older than
mankind itself, and in that moment
you are in the midst of eternity.
They say that some
of the rings of Saturn
They also say that
I am a skeptic for when I stare
through the old binoculars
I see two fuzzy
astigmatic spots of light
and Rapunzel has gone
punk, and I see only
The sad thing is
that Jupiter’s red spot
is showing signs
First published in The Post Grad Journal, Issue 1, Spring 2021
Rockets flash briefly
across the chilled sky,
plumes of smoke, ash
by impending winter.
Over the lintel of the entry
to the Inter-Continental Hotel Chicago,
carved deeply into the marble
Es Salamu Aleikum
brass framed doors
onto the Miracle Mile.
pass below it
My son and I
sit across a small table
spilling bits of tapas
onto the cloth,
at the young boy
bathed in a puree
of tomato, his shirt
dotted in goat cheese.
My son explains
the inflation of the universe,
by coalescing binary
His words pull me
into my seat.
We speak somberly
of the jet engine
in the Queens gas station
unwilling to mention
the small community.
by his door, the few
measured hours run.
He turns to call
I turn my collar up
against the November night.
The Red Line train
clatters slowly back
into a sleeping city.
In my room
I brew a cup of Darjeeling.
*”We will drink tea in Kabul tomorrow morning, if God wills it.” – Basir Khan, Northern Alliance Commander, quoted in the Chicago Tribune, 13 November 2001.
First appeared in Hearsay, 2004 and in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press (2008).
The problem is one
of disequilibrium, for we
have grown tired of it
before it has grown
tired of us.
There is no agreement
to be reached,
no chance of
a detente, no
state of truce.
We will defeat it,
we have no
choice, but until
then the virus
will be our companion.