|Chagrin River Review||
Poet’s Guide to Ada Lovelace, First Computer Programmer
Say you’re the daughter to a famous poet,
man who birthed Don Juan on paper
as thin as a layer of skin, that blows
over with slightest breeze.
Say your dream of being a physician
is a century-and-some too soon,
though because your mother wants you
to be rational—unlike your father
who walked out on both of you--
your mathematics are encouraged.
Then one genteel dinner party,
you eavesdrop Mr. Babbage’s ideas
for a calculating engine that not only
could foresee but could act on that insight,
touching you in ways that pique your heart,
your head, the universality of his ideas
appreciated by no one but you.
Say you’re his Enchantress of Numbers,
figures bending to your will
as you write him notes,
programs which seek to calculate
sequences of Bernoulli numbers,
jealous critics trying to take
away from a woman all credit.
Say you are too preoccupied
with madness—your father’s only gift,
your mother accuses—your mind that will
turn against you, if only you could create
a calculus of the nervous system
measuring how the brain gives
rise to thought, nerves to feeling,
though in the end your math does nothing
to stem your gambling, your uterus
which fails you, leaves you laying
next to your father, forever.
But say your name becomes
its own code, its own language
governments use to defend themselves,
their secrets, is that the only fair way
for you to be remembered?
Poet's Guide to Alien Hand Syndrome
One hand washes the other,
then gives up, decides to unbutton
your shirt, grab a breast,
wake you up from dead sleep
as it wraps its fingers
around your thin throat,
anything to make itself known
as its own person who answers
to no one, especially not you.
It’s easy to see the humor,
to toss out the old line:
What we have here is a failure
to communicate, forgetting
how your body fails the hand,
never letting it know it’s always
been a valued member of the pack,
so to speak.
Communication is the silver bullet
to every problem you’ve had,
so try again to keep your hand
occupied and appreciated.
If you can’t talk to it, then how
could you ever hold on
to your one true love who’s
always worked to close
the distance between you?
Poet's Guide to Swarm Behavior
If only you could be locked
in a bank vault, the world
destroyed around you,
no one else alive when you find
your way out, all the books
you’ve ever wanted
left to keep you company--
You saw this on a show once
and refused to accept the man
couldn’t have found another
pair of glasses, that his woeful
That’s not fair was anything
but a cry to keep solitude close,
not a plea to ask another
soul to emerge over horizon,
one weak moment believing
he couldn’t rely on himself.
Because you want to think
that is your natural state too,
since people make your life
more difficult than need be.
Because if people needed people
there’d be a name like starlings’
murmurations, hives of bees,
plankton blooms and herds of cows,
lions’ prides, alligators’ congregations.
A group of people falls short,
as does a crowd pushing
its way through one door
when Fire! echoes theater walls,
as does family.
You are the lone wolf among
all the lone wolves,
nothing more important
than the way you work