TOM SNARSKY

Poem

Mirrored in a mountain river
beyond the browning underbrush,
a blue whistling thrush sets its song
to dusk’s complicated music.

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Her hand almost covers the sound
hole of the guitar as she plays.
Broken chords eclipse that circle
of distracted breath (not to scale).

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Today, the oracle foretold
the death of fire.
The flames will be
eyeless in the gladdening smoke.
Both modes sew the murder of air.

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This poem has one character.
We’d need to go all the way back
to Spinoza—maybe further—
in order to find her true love.

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Groups are algebraic objects
determined by four axioms.
They are sometimes represented
with diagrams called Cayley graphs.

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For a long time she has wanted
a child. She second-guesses this
sometimes, like anything, but her
doubt is planar—an afterthought.

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Incised into a one-time pad,
an account of the genesis
of history. The key jangles
on its ring at the bailiff’s hip.

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The idol lies cold on her palm.
Its metaphorical logic
twists like a balloon animal,
with crossings at faith’s boundary.

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Astronomers are still puzzled
by Jupiter’s winds; no model
for the Jovian atmosphere
can explain all we see in it.

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Random walks through the multiverse
with the Mad Hatter can help some-
times, unless she’s just looking for
a quiet place to count her dreams.

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Definition: we say a group
is sofic if its Cayley graph
is subamenable. Sofic,
from the Hebrew word for finite.

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She sees the uncanny valley
from the citadel. It’s unclear
why symbolic authority
is twinned in this nuclear dream.

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Hellfire, plus a philosophy
of affirmation. (Furtive chance.)
Reactions, but not reactive:
the whole bright universe at once.

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Ineradicable, the swerve,
completely. She stares at the list
of calculations. Completely
ineradicable
, she smiles.

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Schnittke did not have to explain
himself. He was not on trial.
Except when he was. When he was
on trial, he did not use words.

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She can’t see Jupiter from here.
She builds deep and shallow models
in her dreams, where uncertainty
gleams like wax fruit or red metal.

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All sofic groups are surjunctive.
This means the Garden of Eden
theorem applies: we can look
for twin states instead of gardens.

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Her copy of Tristram Shandy
has two folded pages: the black
page for poor Yorick, and the page
where Tristram is finally born.

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The theologian broke his arm.
He rested it on the surface
of the water while he waded
further out, toward the island.

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Does she really want to make him
kill the shadow man? Jupiter’s
core accretes from too far afield.
Her questions are becoming gray.

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Twins are states that map to the same
successor states. Gardens are states
that have no predecessor states.
Twins are much easier to find.

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She has overheard the March Hare
flinging snowglobes into the past.
The clock tower’s going berserk.
She feeds into it, listening.

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It doesn’t matter how the truth
is spelled. Field above the warren.
Low grasses. Creeping rootstalks of
turmeric. (Dissimilation.)

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She holds the seraph in her hand.
The firmament has never felt
this real. Like royalty, she slides
her arm into the filmy sky.

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Idealizations, then shock.
High Jupiter recalcitrant.
A blighted model theory
of hemlock, deathly recursive.

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The vacuum throat—malfunctioning—
throws her into ruins built of
marble. A shuffled voice crackles
into the dust of bleak sculpture.

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In the year 29 CE,
on November the 24th,
a total solar eclipse was
visible near Jerusalem.

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Her solar wind beckons the font
into new, unworded grandeur.
Without a preconceived grammar,
she is free to remake the voice.

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Sofia Gubaidulina.
I owe you more than everything.
Sofia Gubaidulina.
Born three years & one month too soon.

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Emerging from the noisy mud,
the revenant opens her eyes
and reads backwards: her blue hymnal
the softest palindrome in time.

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The Dormouse cries in his sleep too.
He hides his icons in the fog
of the teapot, hazy with dreams,
yearning like a warm theory.

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She drank in the immensity
of the heavens and vocalized
a rosebush. Little else took place
after that, except the birth of—



Tom Snarsky teaches mathematics at Malden High School in Malden, Massachusetts, USA. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Blackbox Manifold, Jerkpoet, Maudlin House, Eunoia Review, Third Point Press, and elsewhere. He tweets @TomSnarsky and posts work occasionally at http://quarrellary.wordpress.com. He lives in Braintree, Massachusetts.

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