New York City skyline at night


Spring 2009



Allen C. Fischer

Einstein on Vacation

What bird in hand?
The sky scowls, progeny
of one pathetic fallacy too many.
Like a New Year's Eve inebriate
with nothing to look forward to,
it bags the question and heads south
to an old hotel alone on a lake.
Why the bullshit, why a cruel sea
on the banks of immaterial sanctuary?
Einstein might have gazed at the far glitter
and extrapolated something about the power
of math to exile meaning: that the guest
next door is alien to your calculations;
that all things considered come all too often,
the itinerary cross-eyed and the next
phone call a wrong number. Fate again?
Space is an imbroglio of frequencies and
no thought will get through without first
becoming another. Migraine and metaphor coalesce.
A mountain shows its scarred face,
shades of the hurricane of 1943.
Suddenly it's October, the trees
are laying down their lives: red, yellow,
brown, far beyond the prophecy of numbers.
Here, where the air is thin and the news
foreign, a man's legacy becomes landfill.


Shake Down

What loose ends filter through
the middle-aged commuter,
not even he may know.
Seated across from me at day's end
on a rush hour local,
his right leg pumps, foot tapping
one minute, accelerating the next
in a rapid quiver as though
the man were testing
the body's shock absorbers,
then moving on to see if his leg
might double as a jack hammer.

But as I glance at his face,
his eyes open but focused inward,
I sense that what vibrates his leg
is not simply nerves or the antic
tap-tap-tap of a drummer practicing.
Like the end clink of each rail,
his rhythm is too regular,
the glassy dial of his pupils too fixed.
I see him tabulating, running through
his schedule, down-loading its events, head
to toe, into the reflex that brings him
back to the office day after day after day.



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