COSMOLOGY

Our purpose is to understand
and then explain
the order of the Universe:
the logic of the neat array of stars
from our centrally located
observation deck, the galaxies
as so many fractals seeking
to hide their organization.
We have no ability to control
and lack the mechanisms
to make all but the most minute
adjustments and then as if
to energize a stray electron
into a higher energy state.
We would like to foretell
but we have no essential premise
on which to erect our framework
just a cornerstone unwilling
to settle in place or time.
We can only recount
what we have learned
cautious that we miss
only events of lesser importance
even if they are prehistory
long before they occur.
Before the beginning
was the beginning.


Published in the May 2004 issue of Vent

MOONING

If you set aside the small fact
that earth is the only inhabitable planet
it’s fairly clear the cosmos gave us
a surprisingly bad deal when the cards were dealt.
It’s true that Mercury and Venus
got no moons, but it wouldn’t much matter
for they can see a sun we can’t
begin to imagine, huge and ever-present.
Even Mars, bloody warrior planet it is,
got two, and it got gypped in the grand scheme.
From there is a wealth and you can be sure
Jovians and Saturnians hardly know
which way to look to see a moon rise and set.
But we have the one, and it is frankly
rather boring, its primary claim to fame
being that it is just the right size
to blot out the sun every now and again,
but the sun never seems amused and quickly returns.

TIME

He stopped believing in time. It served no purpose for him, other than allowing others to chastise him for being late. He knew he operated under the laws of gravity, it was a burden he accepted, if begrudgingly. He understood his limitations, tested their margins, but allowed that he had finite power over them. But time was something different. Intangible, evanescent, yet omnipresent. It weighed on him, held him in its grasp. But why life should be parsed and and meted out by a third rate star and planets orbiting it was beyond him. The moment he stopped believing in time, the moment he denied its very existence, the clock in the town square stopped speaking to him, and the silence was welcomed. There was no history, no yesterday impinging on now, no tomorrow distracting him. Finally, he could breathe freely. Suddenly certain he was immortal, and life began to deeply matter.

RELATIVE(LY)

Where I live we have hills. Mostly we have hillocks, but here they call the very high hills mountains so we have to call the hillocks hills. It is a question of relativity. Einstein understood relativity.   He was born near Feldberg which rose nearly 4900 feet up. He lived in New Jersey where you could find the Kittatinny Mountains, reaching a majestic 1800 feet. My brother in law lives on a quiet mesa, flat and so often desolate, with mountains in the distance. My brother in law doesn’t look down on Einstein though he could from his house at 7000 feet. But he looks nearby at Wheeler Peak at 13000 feet and feels relatively small. Einstein never visited Wheeler Peak. I have never visited the Kittatinny Mountains. Einstein and I both have climbed hillocks. Relatively speaking.

INTERSTICES

In the interstitial moment

between birth and death

a universe comes into existence,

something that never before existed

and existed always, new

and well-known, unseen

and visible for eternity.

Measure it well

for it is incapable of measurement,

and ends without warning

and precisely on schedule.

In the momentary breath

that marks the transit,

we proceed nowhere

and cannot return to where we began.

Enso

In the interstitial moment

between birth and death

a universe comes into existence,

something that never before existed

and existed always, new

and well-known, unseen

and visible for eternity.

Measure it well

for it is incapable of measurement,

and ends without warning

and precisely on schedule.

In the momentary breath

that marks the transit,

we proceed nowhere

and cannot return to where we began.