It’s a dirty machine, the universe—
proof of its unclean cogging is seen
in the bits it spits off, the dirt it flings
from its levering arms: Asteroids.
Asteroids which flee ass over end
to be crater-battered by countless others
and break away piecemeal and plummet
into unsuspecting forgetful planets
who dreamed the last million millennia
until they believed in pure black, utter
lack, silent gravity and the non-greasy
lubricant of infinity. But it’s not so.
Everything clamors and clangs, tears
and burns. Vastness is no excuse. The evidence
is everywhere, giant rocks whizzing by, fleeing,
stumbling through unfiltered space like the sparks
from rustic construction. Rocks: the unwhole,
the broken, the residue of the out of control:
Rough, random and often gigantic. Debris.
Because something is happening, and the mess
is the message: stand back, look out, it’s no better
out there than down here: Born, then worn; stable
then labile; rhythmic, asynchronic; pristine
then unclean; rhyming, then not, not at all.
Try asking an asteroid, a refugee from some
fusion furnace, now too dead-panicked
to speak though it must want to scream,
to wake us, to warn us, to bleed out loud
and save our meaning.
At Horseneck Beach
Body surfing, inside the wave the world
becomes a stroke of swirled oil paints,
bright colors mixed green-orange-yellow and
it roars in your ears as your body vibrates
and you know you are touching the great Other,
and it’s loud. It shouts, “What are you doing here?”
Not angry, concerned. Can you take such
foreign intensity? Sometimes you get pummeled
against the bottom, lifted, thrashed, scraped
Now I wash up on the sand in the low surf, sit up and
turn to face the next wave coming in but its forty-five
years later, that was at the beach, at Horseneck Beach,
the cold New England water bleeding bright red seaweed.
I see my young father still out there, waist deep,
sideways, arms up, eyes out to sea, poised,
waiting for a big one to take him in.
Stay there! I shout, and struggle back towards him.
Patrick Cole is a dual-national American living in Barcelona. Poetry of his was published recently in Angry Old Man, The Offbeat, Arsenic Lobster, The Ekphrastic Review and The Heron Tree. My fiction has appeared in numerous publications including the Writing That Risks anthology, Rivet, Parcel (a Pushcart Prize nominee), High Plains Literary Review (also a Pushcart Prize nominee), and The Conium Review. A one-act play of his was a finalist in the Knock International Play Competition and was produced in Seattle.