On the Nature and Use of Public Transportation

comments 6
Christ / Poetry

Calculus reveals itself
to be the study
of my fears.
The tangent to a curve is a line,
a rock slung into the void of space,
a cannonball flight
untempered by gravity,
a prognosis insulated
from relationship
and possibility.
If we take the vector properties
of this miniscule instant,
extrapolate them,
and play the tape,
well… uh oh.
When the Studebaker
is whipping around a turn,
an antique rocking chair
strapped inadequately to the roof,
once released from its lashings,
will catapult through space
on a straight line
and conserve its energy
upon impact with an oak tree.
Calculus confirms as much.
A sudden change in momentum
releases demons.
Wood shatters.
Pies explode.
Children laugh at this absurdity.
Atoms open their sliding doors
and their mysterious inhabitants spill out
onto the platform
like a troupe of break dancers
bottled up since 1985,
as if every moment were rush hour
and the secrets of time and space
utter adherents to public transportation.
Falcons high overhead,
they just swivel their heads.
Clouds drift.   Thoughts tumble.
We latch and unlatch
our mental gears,
burning out the clutches
of our illusory
gearing of subject to object,
of perceiver to perceived.
At the moment of
greatest change,
the inaccuracy of
a forecast is greatest.
We shouldn’t place any stock
in their madness.
No one said calculus was sane.
Whenever reality is served
up in slices,
there is a limit on how finely
it may be shaven.
Christ is what arises
when we sneak through the Planck Barrier.
Every computation
exposed to such heat
catches on fire.
If you try to calculate
the forces at the center of an electron,
the math will digress into riddles.
Then what.
Anything divided by
what is happening
could lead to anything else.
The center of one particle
is the threshold of
every other point in existence.
I forget that sometimes.
I’m not a rocking chair,
I’m a mystery commuting
through space and time
in the Beloved’s subway car.
Who is driving, you ask?
Where are we going?

Last time I asked that,
we suddenly entered a tunnel
and darkness swallowed us whole
and the only light was the glow
of the front teeth
of ten thousand smiling saints
all around me,
and all of them shouting at once,
“I am!  I am!”


  1. “Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.”

    ― Nisargadatta Maharaj on the mystery of commuting through space and time.


  2. Reading this, Michael, I found myself imagining I was sitting in an intimate nightclub. You were slowly walking amongst the tables as you riffed. By the time you’d finished with “I am! I am!” we were all blinking and breathing in unison and breaking out in smiles.


    • Thank you, Jana. I much appreciate the lovely response. You have added poetry to poetry. I’m not sure I’m prepared to stroll amongst the tables at a night club– (gulp)– but I am delighted it spoke to you.



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