He says “the shortest distance
between any two points is a straight line.”
She says, “you will miss seeing
of the amazing sights if you
follow that inane rule, and by the way
Einstein made it quite clear
space is curved, and the line
you think straight is not at all,
so why not follow a more varied curve
and see what there is to see
along the way. It might surprise you.”
He says, “I have to follow the road
and the interstates are the most direct routes.”
She says, “there are an infinite number
ways to get from point A to B.”
She wants to try several of them
and if he doesn’t like it, well
there is always the back seat.
I write letters
to dead heroes
beginning each Dear __________:
I apologize for the intrusion
but in your next life
will you do the same,
give up the desk
in the patent office
for dreams of brothers
twins, one moving
one fixed, stand
before a jury, no testament
to the Lower East Side.
I carefully fold each letter
and put on proper postage
but delivery across
the curtain of mortality
is slow and your
responses have not
but I will
continue to write
for there are always
more with whom
I suspect that I am not alone in wondering
if there is a corner of literary hell set aside
for those who foist clichés on the world
and at the head of that table should sit
the fellow who first said “time marches on.”
Even Einstein realized that time is relative,
and as one who served in the military
I can assure you that time does not march,
does not follow a neat, tidy cadence,
and all to often doesn’t know where it is going.
Time does many things, it can meander
like an early morning walk along the shore,
it can rush forward like the youth
discovering what he is sure is love,
it can even plod, when the pain is growing
and the doctor is ever so slow to respond.
Oh, and sitting next to our marching friend
I nominate the fool who thought that time
might actually fly, maybe hell will be fun for him.
If Einstein was correct
the arrow of time,
rusted in place, indomitable,
can be freed, torn
from its mooring
and set adrift
defying its natural
As the lights
of Seoul were engulfed
by a blanket of clouds
which in turn ebbed,
revealing a universe
spread out, and I settled
slowly into sleep,
Thursday faded into
First sun sliced
through the interstices
of the shades as fog dissipated
from San Francisco Bay.
Like Jonah, having
atoned, I crawled
from the belly
of a great beast,
metallic Sheol, and stepped
into a Ninevah of glass
and steel, rubbing
eyes, rejecting day.
Stumbling the corridors
and down a ramp
I slid into my seat.
As gravity was again
unfolded, inviting but
having learned nothing
I faded into dreams.
Sirius, you arise each evening. Your braying
washes the night sky, as though to daunt us.
There was a time we stood in simple awe
having no idea how far away you skulked
or of your immenseness, a cold dark point
that could barely illumine our occasional thought.
Hawking sits pressed into his chair
held in a gravity with a force of a thousand
suns, all pulling toward a singular focus
and witnesses your slow death
collapsing inward, downward into
your seat on the heavenly chariot
until the moment when nothing
can escape. Hubble knew you all
too well, chasing you across the sky
as you dodged flitting just out of grasp.
You are the coyote, hiding by day
to avoid the hunter, knowing his steps
across the mesa, hearing his footfall
reverberating through the void.
Einstein knew you all too well,
although he rarely glanced upward
preferring to stare through his mind’s
eye, dissecting you, cutting you
into neat slices then reassembling
you and placing you back on the mantle
of his limitless imagination. We no longer
fear you, or for that matter, much care
your color fades into whiteness
and you are lost like another grain
of sand on the beach of time.
What is inconceivable about the universe
is that it should be at all conceivable.
— A. Einstein
of the universe,
rolling the bones
of a thousand
into the black hole
to the line
stacked as cordwood
at a half
The sweep of the second hand,
the minute hand is constant, each
moment as long as the last, none
longer, none shorter and yet I know
that Einstein was right in noting that
things unpleasant take forever, while
all that is joyful passes quickly,
even when the elapsed time is the same.
What Albert didn’t say is that
the unpleasant leads us to look
for the future, keeping us
locked out of the present moment.
That which is pleasant keeps us present
and the future seems to come
too quickly, the pleasure slipping away.
It is, in the end, merely perception
and I prefer to remain in the present
for it is all that I have, and
all that I choose to make it.