Derivatives with Limits


                           --with lines by Galway Kinnell, Billy Strayhorn, Philip Larkin

Working over Birk's Works and other tunes my saxophonist admires--
Cheesecake, Blackbird--for the theoretical, applied mathematics inside
or alternately an abstract audial harmonization of the Big Bang and The Fall.

Would you rather have the fever break or something great happen to you?
The young senator or never pissing glass again.
Look one way, from another come the heart's missed beats.

                              *                              *                              *

Can I call you back? We're trying to get my truck out of the mud.
Who does he think he is, Nelson Mandela?
"Lieutenant, this corpse will not stop burning!"

Writing cannot save you but can it ease the way?
What does Tagore say?
More movies about dying men.

                              *                              *                              *

Will my letter to the editor be in the funny pages?
Will I even be able to read it?
Did I send it to the wrong address? I've seen my death face and it's not pretty.

Maybe I can watch your varsity games from a viewfinder in the afterlife.
If I don't finish The Iliad, maybe there's a library there.
Maybe. Maybe is a long, long time.

                              *                              *                              *

Read an epic to the bitter end.
Visit with friends? They'll not come in, so no need to hide out.
I never had anything wise or gentle to say to my parents.

About bladder function. They got the same treatment
as every other soldier. Which systems shut down first
and how. The mail keeps coming even after you've stopped barking.

                              *                              *                              *

Notwithstanding an impending tsunami
we must figure out why there's water in the basement.
Always nice to have a mystery to read on the plane.

Each poet, every essayist, has what's called a voice,
a personality or, more accurately, a deep crack
repellent and unmendable, that the writer must forever try to mend.

                              *                              *                              *

Homer tries several ways to explain the slaughter:
by describing how a spear pierces a warrior's jawbone or armor,
how Achilles' and Agamemnon's hissy fits contribute to the pain of being a soldier

and how the gods, esp. Zeus, are passionate, confused, obtuse.
A callow youth even as a man. He was afraid and therefore could not comfort or help.
Perhaps he has a question he'd like to ask but isn't sure what it is or how to ask it.

                              *                              *                              *

The hero loses urinary control.
The virtuoso loses interest in her bow.
The expert forgets to do the research.

How do cancer cells and bacteria cooperate to kill
the host (you). The way yr mum & pop
fuck you up. It's unavoidable and it's not your fault.


Copyright 2013 by Robert Ronnow. Acknowledgements.