Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Dear Bose-Einstein Condensate

I keep this in mind: our bodies are made up
of trillions of cells
that are in a constant state of renewal.
Our taste buds only last a few hours
and then are replaced.
About 1% of our cells
are replaced each day.
About every three months we get a new body.

I don’t know who I’ll be the next time we meet.


Maybe I’m just speeding up the process—
or maybe slowing it down so we can become
more attentive to the transformation.

It is hard to know who we are.


I didn’t tell you I changed my name to Robert Bly.

Later on tonight you can say:       I heard Robert Bly reading—
but you know he wasn’t that great.
And he asked me to call him Bob. It just didn’t seem right.


My mother has just been evaluated           for Alzheimer’s.
Things do not look good. She is cold   and            shivering.


I’ve been thinking about the Bose-Einstein condensate
which seems odd at this time. A state
of matter cooled to near absolute zero.
I look at my mother shivering—and I’m thinking about hope.


My therapist’s parents had to be really fucked up.
I mean why would anyone who had a healthy level
of self-esteem, anyone who wasn’t riddled with neurosis
and doubt and                              repression and fear,
possibly sit there for fifty minutes listening to me?

Of course, I don’t mean you.
I mean you’re not getting paid for this.


There is a woman who is listening to this right now
with whom I intend to make love.               She doesn’t know it yet.

Sex will shake us to our erotic roots. Fire will spill from our openings.


I don’t want to scare her but here’s a question:
Does a person
with multiple                  personality disorder
have a therapist               for each personality?

In group therapy, I look around
and I am alone.


I think the woman who I intended to make love to
has just stopped listening.
Just a minor setback to our mutual pursuit of ecstasy.


When I get my mother a cup of coffee I am on the elevator.
A man with a big bulging head stands next to me.
I am shocked.
His head is the size of two and a half heads—the size of a beer belly—
the size of a baby platypus.

I’m not sure but I think
this is what happens when the head is overly full of memories,
and they push against the inner walls of the skull,
and they keep pushing until they dent the head, until they pop
it out like a banged kettle.





I didn’t tell you I changed my name to Mark Strand.
I don’t know how to tell you I am currently Joy Harjo.


The woman I wanted to make love to must have been confused.
I am sure she is having second thoughts about her departure.
Can you imagine our lovemaking?

Oh, beautiful, the place where we first woke up.
The place where we will wake up again.

Oh, powerful wings                      that carry our burdens.

We are tuning forks picking up the vibrational frequency of the other.
Our navels spark.


I once knew a woman who said she was interested in a threesome,
but she wasn’t very good at math.
When I’m alone I practice not being a selfish lover.


Light moves at 186,000 miles per second except
when moving through a Bose-Einstein condensate.
Then it is like crawling through a speed trap in a remote speck of a town.


I didn’t tell you I changed my name to Adrienne Rich.
Later on you will say that you heard Adrienne Rich read—
But she really didn’t seem to be herself.


I wear a name tag: The False Self.
My Inner Child was adopted by a dysfunctional family.

I am an experiment I can’t wait to tell you about.

My yearnings mask my desires. My desires mask my cravings.
I am part cracked mask, part rearing horse, part whittled flute.

I don’t know who I’ll be later this evening.
Hi, I’m a PC. Hi, I’m a Mac.

Just ignore the W.S. Merwin name tag.
He has asked me to wear it.


The woman who turned off this reading this must be thinking
how we could have started a fire at the molecular level—
how we could have made love until our insides were crystal.


I bring my mom the cup of coffee
to warm her while we are waiting to see
if she will remember me later.
I recognize my problem:
I have too much memory like the man
with the big head in the elevator.

I have scrubbed the bottom of my brain.
Here, Mom, take some of mine.


Here’s what amazes me.
Scientists have succeeded in halting light
by directing it into a Bose-Einstein condensate.

This is what happens when time moves into my mother’s brain.
A cup of condensed electricity.


I don’t give a shit about being a poet.
But I do care deeply about poetry—about its ability to freeze time.


I’ll ride the elevator into the sky with the man
with the gigantic head and my mother whose head
is getting lighter all the time and the woman
who recently left this book behind in search
of someone she will make love to—
Someone with a Robert Pinsky name tag
who asks her to call him Bob.

I wish her luck and a night full of lit brain cells.
A whole roaring festival of cell renewal.


In the end, with creating or loving or dying,
we are doing the same thing—slowing down light
until it is almost at a standstill.

This is what happens in sex and poetry and dying—
we approach an absolute zero
and our bodies and our brains become
vessels of slowed light.  end  

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