The Atom No. 18

                                                     A l l
T       h     e                     things living on the          a     t     o      m   
f      i     n     d           surface    of     our    globe          s             w 
i     t     h      i         arrive at the equator a recital             n
i     t     s      e        of  our  uncertainties.  A touch           l     f   
T     r      u     t      of  blue devotion.  Waves and              h           a     n
d          J     u           lastly light nestling.  Trans-      s      t     i     c     e  
                                    lation  of space indicat-
                                           ing  the  future.

Related Poems

Fusiturricula Lullaby

A visit to the shores of lullabies,
So far from here, so very far away,
A floor of sand, it doesn't matter where,
And overhead a water-ceiling sways;
A shell is summoned to materialize—
The holy life, a spiral, hushed and pure,
Complete unto itself—a spiral shell
Is summoned from a substratum of wonder:
And all is well now, hush now, close your eyes,
Around a primal, ragged nucleus
Accumulated layers crystallize:

An embryonic seashell pulls itself
Through being-portals intricately placed
In seas of non-existence; caught; self-caught
In nets of pasts-and-futures synchronized
In present-nows: the Many and the One—

It doesn't matter, really, how it's done,
The how of it; the why; it doesn't know
How atoms in the ancient paradox
Can pass from unseen particles to seen

Or why a chain of atoms interlocks
And manifests in blurry pink and green;
It doesn't matter really, where it's from—
Descended from an ancient nacre-dream,
Self-fabricating through genetic codes
Without an archetype to utilize,
As if the wondrous deed it's summoned to
Were all that ever mattered, seam by seam
Volutions from a nacre-nucleus
Of violet iridescence: being-whorl
With everything in play, and all in play,
And all is well now, hush now, close your eyes—

A shell appears—Fusiturricula
And uses its inherited clairvoyance
To plot a logarithmic spiral round
An axis of rotation evermore
And evermore-forevermore unseen,
Through pre-existing numbers, one-two-three,

And shyly browsing algae as it ponders
Angular momentum; symmetry;
Successively self-generating curves
Projecting helixes, the axis fixed;
Then tilting on its axis; torsion-tilt;
Compulsion and desire mixed with toil;
An overhanging cusp becomes a spire
By pushing up and forward on the coil:

Irregularly oscillating whorls
Are flaring out in ruffled calcium;

Pure rhythmia;
                    Slow motion suturings,
With no one there to sew them, perforate
The apex, boring through: a water-vent,
Inhalant and exhalant;
                                knotted threads
Are pulled to fasten equidistant nodes
Along a helix-rim;
                         a clockwise twist
And twirling stripes through interrupted bands
Are darkly lit, through brilliant whites and creams,
Like lightning bolts in violet-tinted brown
That zigzag in slow motion, down and down
From node to node to node; a lightning dream
Descending ridge by ridge:
                                      Sensation: Fizz
Salt water circulating past and through
The ruffled aperture—existence is
A taste of ocean water on a tongue—

And then Fusiturricula, intent
On browsing, sets in motion moving veils
Of sands that long ago and far away
Were magma rocks with twisted veins of ore
From which the sand was ground and empty shells
Like lightning-stricken spires, surface-fused
With used-up bolts of lightning, lie around—

Nacreous, in almost-silence, hushed
Among the lulling engines of the sea—

But hush now, close your eyes now, all is well:
Underwater ink enlarges, blurs,
In violet-brown across a spiral shell:
A record of volutions fills a scroll
With wondrous deeds and great accomplishings,
A record of a summons not refused:

Of logarithms visible and fused
With thoughts in rows of spiral beaded cords
As X goes to infinity; impearled;
Violet; and inviolate; self-endowed;

Itself the writing, and itself the scroll
The writing's written on; and self-aware
With never-ever-to-be-verbalized
Awareness of awareness of awareness,
Instantiation; all in play; a sole
Immaculate example of itself;

And in the aperture, the remnants of
A Heavenly Question, lightly brushed across
With opalescent ore of consciousness:
The universe is where? Is hanging where?

And overhead a water-ceiling sways,
And all is done in play; in heaven above

The ceiling of the sea is drawing streams
Of shining answers through its question-sieves:
Is matter the enchanted lathe? Or mind?
But which one spirals from the other's blade?

And all the waves at the beginning-end
Of all that comes and goes and takes and gives
And all in play and all that dies and lives
Materializes; dematerializes;
Five, and four, and three, and two, and one—
And all is brought to being; all effaced;

And all that could be done has now been done;
And all is well and hush now, never mind;
Fusiturricula slowly withdraws
Its being; self-enfolding; self-enclosed;
And all it toiled for turns out to be
No matter—nothing much—nothing at all— 
Merely the realm where "being" was confined
And what was evanescent evanesced;

And then a spiral shell washed by a wave
Is carried forward in a foaming crest;
But that was long ago and far away,
It doesn't matter, really, when it was,
And close your eyes now, hush now, all is well,
And far from here, so very far away,

A wave sets down an empty spiral shell
And draws away, it doesn't matter where,
Among the other waves that come and go,
And other waves appear and disappear
And hush now, all is well, and far from here

All heaven and earth appear; and evanesce;
A self-engulfing spiral, ridge by ridge,
That disappears in waves that come and go
And all that could be done is done; and seven;
And six; and five; and four; and three; and two;
And one...and disappearing...far away...
Enraptured to the end, and all in play,
A spiral slowly turns itself in heaven.


If a human body has two-hundred-and-six bones
and thirty trillion cells, and each cell
has one hundred trillion atoms, if the spine
has thirty-three vertebrae—
                   if each atom
has a shadow—then the lilacs across the yard
are nebulae beginning to star.
If the fruit flies that settle on the orange
on the table rise
like the photons
                     from a bomb fire miles away,
my thoughts at the moment of explosion
are nails suspended
in a jar of honey.
                              I peel the orange
for you, spread the honey on your toast.
When our skin touches
our atoms touch, their shadows
merging into a shadow galaxy.
And if echoes are shadows
of sounds, if each hexagonal cell in the body
is a dark pool of jelly,
if within each cell
drones another cell—
                        The moment the bomb explodes
the man’s spine bends like its shadow
across the road.
The moment he loses his hearing
I think you are calling me
from across the house
because my ears start to ring.
From the kitchen window
                     I see the lilacs crackling like static
as if erasing, teleporting,
thousands of bees rising from the blossoms:
tiny flames in the sun.
I lick the knife   
and the honey pierces my tongue:
                       a nail made of light.
My body is wrapped in honey. When I step outside
                                  I become fire.

So They Say— They Finally Nailed— the Proton’s Size— & Hope— Dies—

but love does not, Menelle Sebastien.
Of all the afflictions
& luck,
all the sums & paradoxes,
& gravitons that add up
to more minus
than plus,
I promise that love
is often as inconsiderate as it is just
because actual love,
I imagine,
is a wave function
that isn’t restricted
to being
in any one place
at one time.
No, love must
be a superposition
with a measurement problem,
but don’t worry,
I won’t get into alternative
realities & how a single judgement
from one can so easily
or what,
she’s sizing up—                & yet,

                              when experts speak of capturing
vastness at such a small scale,
I can only see the passenger
flitting into living
sequoia trees,
& every blue whale
sinking into the great
& all the threats each are facing,
all these gigantic things
that beat
within the size
of a subatomic being
that is the proton,
which is not fundamental
as love
ought to be—

                            & maybe it does all
add up
to a single hush.
Like how we try to escape
what makes us human by trying
to make sense of what made us
These days,
when I think on the proton,
I only observe love
as entanglement
in which we bias & sway & touch
over great,
But like I said,
I won’t get into it
like the quark’s fate
& all the possible quantum trickery
out there,
lying in wait.
I don’t believe hope dies
just because old measurements got it
wrong & there are no secret lives
between protons & muons
that cause the former to change
in size,
silencing all the music
that drives us
toward mystery
rather than discovery.
Maybe just thank
electronic hydrogen,
since, for now, there’s an answer,
even if it feels like a dead end—

                                                       because I’d bet everything,
                                                       that at least something began
                                                       over this:                         jounce,
                                                       butterfly & cower ::
                                                       over & oeuvre,
                                                       greedy, hunger,
                                                       & sour

                 until aching
                 each other’s spoils,
                 stripping bare
                 their delicate
                 & deadly