A Time of Bees

All day my husband pounds on the upstairs porch.
Screeches and grunts of wood as the wall is opened
keep the whole house tormented. He is trying to reach
the bees, he is after bees. This is the climax, an end
to two summers of small operations with sprays and ladders.

Last June on the porch floor I found them dead,
a sprinkle of dusty bugs, and next day a still worse
death, until, like falling in love, bee-haunted,
I swept up bigger and bigger loads of some hatch,
I thought, sickened, and sickening me, from what origin?

Their Bodies

That gaunt old man came first, his hair as white
As your scoured tables. Maybe you’ ll recollect him
By the scars of steelmill burns on the backs of his hands,
On the nape of his neck, on his arms and sinewy legs,
And her by the enduring innocence
Of her face, as open to all of you in death
As it would have been in life: she would memorize
Your names and ages and pastimes and hometowns
If she could, but she can’ t now, so remember her.

The End of Science Fiction

This is not fantasy, this is our life.
We are the characters
who have invaded the moon,
who cannot stop their computers.
We are the gods who can unmake
the world in seven days.

Both hands are stopped at noon.
We are beginning to live forever,
in lightweight, aluminum bodies
with numbers stamped on our backs.
We dial our words like Muzak.
We hear each other through water.

Squaring the Circle

It’ s a little-known fact that God’ s headgear —
A magician’ s collapsible silk top hat,
When viewed from Earth, from the bottom up —
Is, sub specie aeternitatis,

A pluperfect halo, both circle and square,
And a premonition of this truth
Spurred on an ancient philosopher,
Anaxagoras, to make numerous vain

Attempts to approximate the circle
Of his concerns with the square of the cell
He was jailed in for impiety.
Doomed calculations which God acknowledged

When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

When I heard the learn’ d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’ d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’ d up in perfect silence at the stars.

I Grant You Ample LeaveI Grant You Ample Leave

"I grant you ample leave
To use the hoary formula 'I am'
Naming the emptiness where thought is not;
But fill the void with definition, 'I'
Will be no more a datum than the words
You link false inference with, the 'Since' & 'so'
That, true or not, make up the atom-whirl.
Resolve your 'Ego', it is all one web
With vibrant ether clotted into worlds:
Your subject, self, or self-assertive 'I'
Turns nought but object, melts to molecules,
Is stripped from naked Being with the rest

Natural State

I’ m sitting at Nathan’ s, reading a biography of Darwin
who, right now, is dissecting a barnacle

“no bigger than a pinhead (and with two penises)”:
he’ ll work like this on barnacles, his wrists supported

by rigged-up blocks of workshop wood, for eight years.
Nathan is reading too, in the worn-down banged-up “daddy chair”:

those philosophical poems of William Bronk’ s. What’ s
most delightful is that Tristan, eleven, and Aidan, ten,

“Zeh was a pharmacist”

Zeh was a pharmacist,
or claimed to be,
times were tranquil, people didn’ t ask too many questions,
but when a new broom came along, it was duly “established that” etc.
and it all contributed to his downfall.

Zeh was an incomparable magician
shelves full of powders and tinctures
not that he had to sell them to you
you were persuaded of their efficacy
in advance.