I scrape the last ravioli
from his inner tin walls—his cylindrical ribs
contain my princely dinner.
My fork presses onwards
into the man’s metal viscera, pursuing the mush
of his sweet guts, the succulent cardiac red
of his tomato paste innards.
All day I have awaited this
the way a warring king, after a day spent waging
and wielding, wants for mutton;
I am a royal, ready to ravage
the hidden tenderness of rout’s canned spoils.
The chef, that smiling man—
rotund fleshy jubilance on the can—
is my jester, then, and in my castle,
monarchs dig deeply into the meat of their courtiers.
I empty him into the bowl. His very soul
sloshes into the glass, enriched
iron red; in two minutes’ time,
I will slurp him with queen-befitting greed.
I will cherish each mangled droplet as it sluices
towards my stomach, as the last of his drippings
splash past my omnipotent tongue,
the muscles of my body
a churning fiery machine anticipating
the arrival of his liquefied sinews, the steam
his sacrifice will provide.
All day I have awaited this, and now
I may vanquish what is mine.
Einstein couldn’t fathom an inborn connection
existing between two hydrogen atoms.
Certainly, he postulated, they may spiral away
from their shared origination at some calcium speck,
but there is simply no way for them
to maintain their choreography of synchronized spins
at distances even the speed of light cannot surmount.
A connection, then, can be bred, he said,
but it cannot be sustained
when particulars become separated.
There is nothing spiritual inherent
in a history of physical touch.
Even lacking a background in physics, I, for one,
believe old Albert had the right idea.
Last July, for example, I mattered to you,
and you held me on the sidewalk
with fierce and swirling love.
This afternoon, however, you drove past
and, unsmiling, you averted your eyes.
The wheels on your car were spinning like atoms;
we had lost what once felt quantum. You and I
were local entities, disparate and directionless,
despite the touches we’d once shared—touches so elemental
that they could have been built into our bones.
I thought about your nose, how it once felt
pressed to my skull, and about how atoms grow distracted
and fall away. What Einstein once posited
I know to be true: bodies cannot stay in touch
in the unforgiving chasm of space.
They say there is lucrative ore
tucked away in the valleys,
that by stripping the land to its sinews they can uncover prosperity
for the dust-lunged people of the peaks. “Don’t worry,” they say,
“about slurry—coffee is just as bitter and black; besides, carbon is the base of all life.
Coal is just a part of our ordained whole, God’s will waiting to be uncovered like a sleeping satin mistress
whose silent, seductive moans speak of the black luxury beneath her trembling surface.”
Donning fluorescent orange, they latch onto Appalachia
the way one ant snaps its mandibles around another.
They say, “It’s no problem of mine
that your children
are dying. Projectiles may shatter roof tiles,
but we are smashing glass ceilings.
We blast hilltops in the name
of progress—in your name,
that is, for the sake of decimating
your worries, flattening
your fears, eliminating
the strife that let us sneak
past your fences
to begin with,
gift to you.”
And the people
drink the ore,
The man was an artist, but that
we’ll ignore for now: the work in his hands
must be blurry, fading into the grey
that makes a depthless grave of the rest of his room.
Instead, his sleeve (the prominent crease,
that jagged mistake, unironed and unchecked
with all the tectonic error of a mountain range)
will be half-bright, half-black, its hyper-contrast on display
in fully-focused, eloquent grain.
We see his dishevelment disarm him.
It is this schism on his shirt, the light and dark
ripped apart, that gains the lens’ attention; neglected
are his talents, the bristles of his moustache
and the cautious fingers that guide brushes
along artful surfaces. The wrinkles of his quiet untidiness
trump anything his moment accomplishes.
The man in the photograph cannot be greater
than his nearest flaw.