The Riddle of Flat Circles [excerpt]

Aaron Fogel
The Romans got their circling powers
From a corps of Hellenic mathematicians.
Rome--the container-skull, the fountainhead--
Lookout holes calling itself Reason.

Against her Spain--Maya uprisings--against that grip--
People with terra cotta plus bluegrass flesh--
Flights, transhumance y more or less dispoblado.
Two conch-shaped continents boisterously Romesqued.

The merry die young. The sad, guarded
And anxious live long lives.  The really grim 
Are immortal.  Continue the anti-anti-census.
Capitulate to no Romes.

Heliodemography is the study of the population
Of the sun.  Mrs. Smith lives there with the Mister.
Through an art-of-the-state telescope Iris observes
Cantilevered Yiddish’s stern stars.

More by Aaron Fogel

The Man Who Never Heard of Frank Sinatra

The man who had never heard of Frank Sinatra: he lived
A perfectly ordinary life in America. Born in 1915,
He followed all the fads, read the newspapers, listened

To Television, knew who Dean Martin and Sammy whathisname
Were (Sinatra's friends), but somehow, by a one in a
Zillion fluke, whenever Sinatra came up, he was out of the room.

Or his attention was diverted by something else, and
(You will say this is impossible, that it cannot be), never
Heard him sing, like a man in my generation who somehow

Missed the Beatles though he had heard everything else.
Once, just as he was about to hear the name Frank Sinatra
A plane flew overhead—he was fifty-five years old—his hearing

A little more impaired. He had heard of Humphrey Bogart, 
Of Elizabeth Taylor, of Walter Cronkite, and of perhaps a hundred 
Forty thousand other celebrities names by the time he died,

And yet he had never heard of Frank Sinatra. The Greeks had
That famous saying, "The luckiest man is he who was never born."
Which is kind of gloomy, but I think they were wrong.

The luckiest man is he who never heard of Frank Sinatra.

People

The word has been spelled differently.  The peple in Chaucer
Represent a complex class with raunchy, flexible banners of living color
Replacing the earlier pepul and the Popul Vuh.

As for the peeple who span the engravings, they look around them
Happily and defiantly and threateningly, surveyed in their turn
By reactionary anti-census takers, with pupilles, two eyes, like those

Of Peter the Hermit, mismatched and out of alignment, forced
Therefore to see and read two-dimensionally and truly.
When peiple sacrificed someone they called him a pipple

With contempt, and while he screamed, like prose, forced out
Of his apartment with his family and while the young children wept
There was a lot of laughter, and the payple wrote it down as journalism.

The silent o at the center of people, which is the whole meaning
Of modern English, as it proceeds towards the twenty-first
Century, is the tambourine that no one knows how to play.

Shore Counter

Friendless, with an intimation of islands,
The merchant set up shop on shore.

He had no jovial manner and made no eye
Contact with customers but gazed--

They might be birds or nations--at white
Forms out there in the offing.  People preferred

Buying from him to pretending to be hearty
And earthy--what you have to do with some shopkeepers.

He was the lower-middle class transfinite--
Handing you something to eat and taking the cash

With indifference like the unpainted eyes
Of the oldest classical sculptures of their own erosion,

The self (imagine this) no longer tainted,
The blue long gone because of weather.