01 January 1970

A Bunch of Poems

The poet builds his own space; beats to his own time; and delves under the skin of his own universe.

A bunch of poems...
A bunch of poems... Getty Images

Linear Equations

Matrices of pixels, each dot depending on the next dot.
Two birds times one updraft equals the sum of lift and glide.
Graph the sun’s fall as a function of a gnat’s perception of time.
Are there really only a hundred suns in a gnat’s life?
Graph darkness versus its tendency to lighten.
There are rows of atoms in rows of cells in rows of corn.
The volume of air in a deep cave is greater than the sum of its parts.
Ask a spelunker to differentiate light’s vector.  Follow that course.
Graph the activity of a winter bird as a function of ambient temperature.
Graph all of the molecules in the universe as a function of size.
Its integral is somewhere between one and infinity, but not the middle number.
Balance the equation:  entropy equals one heartbeat divided by zero.
Then explain to me why heat will not flow from a colder body to a hotter body.
You should be dead, but you aren’t.  
Graph that.

-From What Looks Like an Elephant, Lummox Press, 2011

Melody of Complaint

Blue fall of night, stillness
behind an eye. In the fifteenth
hour I stop invoking selfhood
and splayed Byron on his spine.
Faith would warm my hands
if I had it, and doubt would hog
the room if I let it, but my mood
shrinks this house into a cell.
Here is where I leave my wants
and wills. A stack of papers,
a desk riddled with sheets
and letters and numbers.
Above the bookcase leaded
with broken glass, tulips
in a glass jar begging for light.
Everything, as it were,
begging for light.

-From, Out of Time, Running, 2014, Harbor Mountain Press

Man in a Green Field

I am not my father’s elbow,
or the shadow of his hips—
but I have his round lips,
and penchant for pursing.
Career man though he was,
wrangling over annuities
and mutual funds, I often
found him wrestling
with the yard’s entropy,
waging an awkward war
against disorder in front
of our suburban home,
pushing back the tall grass
in our ditch with a sickle
and a can of gasoline.
I’d admire the fire
from a window—
though once I crept
closer, watching it burn
an arm’s length away.
His weekends were spent
crafting our scruffy grass—
power-mowing perfect
stripes, holding back
the tide of chaos with ardor.
He sold insurance,
but worked the yard
in earnest, like Sisyphus.

-From “Thin Places,” forthcoming, Salmon Poetry, 2023

The Universe Is Expanding at an Alarming Rate

Lichen on trees conveys the decay of time
through our collective consciousness.
Erosion grinds the loftiest mounts to sand.

For cosmologists, or for just you and I, 
the book of everything promises
constant, often unwelcomed, change.

Margins of confidence and standard error
can be as small as a cell gone rogue,
or as large as the field housing cosmos.

Hurtling through space, mass-energy 
converts to wave; but still, the soul grumbles,
dissatisfied with theoretical highbrow.

Only two things are infinite, Einstein warned
from his quasar: universe and stupidity. 
The heavens unfold, but stupidity grows inward.

Wingless glider, our universe creeps further away.
The train arrives tomorrow, before it leaves today, 
whistling, like a sonnet in perfect doppler.

- From “Thin Places,” forthcoming, Salmon Poetry, 2023

Thin Places

The ferry rumbles its prosaic way
across the windswept bay,
arriving as the early mist begins
to dissipate, and the sun finds every
tuft of heather about to bloom.

The island’s lack of trees belies
its wealth of moss and lichen adorning
stone; and the palest green on hills
alloys to gray, a masterwork of subtlety.

The landscape wails harsh and spare.
Jagged, protruding rock, sculpted
once by hand, but now only by wind,
conveys sound from crack and crevice.

Stones, on end, decorate the landscape,
from sea and edifice, beaten beautiful.
The island’s lone Abbey looms solitary,
its wattle and timber still buttressed
with rock, infused with the film of ages.

No stone’s as dormant as it seems—
humming like harps whispering holy odes,
thinning the margins of heaven and earth
where breathing becomes prayer,
and prayer, an unharnessed chariot.

- From “Thin Places,” forthcoming, Salmon Poetry, 2023

A New Theory on Time

The star-studded universe mocks an arrow’s arc,
rocketing through a vacuum from our here and now
in spacetime units, out to the faraway of matter
and motion. Einstein said that past, present and future
merge, hermetically sealed in an airless chamber.
And today, at MIT, we hear an elaboration—
wisp and wind we are, diverted only temporarily
from vanishing to the outer reaches, but more solidly
fixed, they suggest, as spinning carousel horses,
or nuclear protons in a static hole the universe
accelerator ignores. We can’t go back to stop a fire
or divert a flood, no teleporting from pandemic
to future cure. The table’s set, lights are low,
and the fine linen delicately laid— red wine brims
the glass we lift, to savor and herald, every tannic drop.

-unpublished, in my next manuscript

Edward Nudelman’s full-length poetry collections include: “Thin Places” (forthcoming, Salmon Poetry, March, 2023); “Out of Time, Running” (Harbor Mountain, 2014); “What Looks Like an Elephant” (Lummox, 2011), and “Night Fires” (Pudding House, 2009). Poems have appeared in Rattle, Cortland Review, Valparaiso Review, Chiron Review, Evergreen Review, Floating Bridge, Plainsongs, Penwood Review, Poets and Artists, and many more. Awards include: finalist in 2019 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest (two poems), honorable mention in 2019 Passager Poetry Contest, Second Place for the Indie Lit Awards Book of the Year (“What Looks Like an Elephant”), semifinalist for the Journal Award, OSU Press (“Night Fires”), and a Pushcart nomination. A Native Seattleite, Nudelman is a recently retired cancer research scientist, and owns/operates a rare bookshop (est. 1980) where he lives in Seattle, with his wife, dog and five ducks.