When I defended my PhD dissertation, one of the readers suggested it read like haiku, a very long haiku at nearly 300 pages. So when asked this weekend to do a poetry reading I thought I’d take up the challenge, but rather aim for the sonnet form. Try this:
Click your wine glass, ring a bell – any sound at all
First you anticipate the sound.
You are going to make a sound; it is not sounding yet.
Then there is the sound you’ve made, present,
Seemingly present, but even as you hear the sound
Synapses firing, it takes a nanosecond
And the reverberations – past tense
when your brain registers the vibrations.
Everything we call ‘now’ is history —
our personal and communal idea, a measured sequence:
we do indeed measure it.
It rules our days, how we schedule our work flow,
plan vacations, anticipate an encounter with our beloved
or remember last night with said beloved,
or our childhood.
We vaguely, reluctantly acknowledge it’s a story we’ve made up.
It might not have even happened.
We could make something else up.
We could organize our lives according to the speed that our hair grows,
or by the sun, to shift with the seasons
as it generally, in fact, does
and we generally, in fact, do.
We hold these contradictory facts as true at the same time:
every day is twenty-four hours yet days are longer
in summer than in winter in the northern hemisphere,
the opposite in the south.
You might protest, “but this is just a confusion of the term ‘day’, semantics”
To which I reply, “exactly.”
So what about Kenny?
This two-D animated character created in 3-D – digitally –
Always was just flickering pixels, code,
Never drawn as we think of drawing, never pen to paper
That’s an after-effect,
a look that we call Kenny
who dies in one episode just to live again
next week, no explanation
this quirky little guy discloses contradictory facts we hold
with little difficulty in our four dimensions, fifth dimension:
Life goes on, death is not so final.
Indeed, death might not much matter.
So much for time’s arrow;
it can be dismissed as a cartoon figure.
A black hole, a photograph.
You breathe, I breathe. You go on and on
I go on and on and on.
Kenny, just flickering pixels, goes on and on.
You might protest, “Parker and Stone just made that shit up”
To which I might reply: Exactly.