Oh, Physics

“oh physics,” “Messages,” and “Elfie’s Quantum Thoughts”

In Issue 67 by Malcolm Glass

Oh, Physics
Photo by Brian McMahon on Unsplash

oh physics

oh physics

of warped gluons in the matrix    chromosomes

molding children with necks and knees

disjoint and attenuate    physics of the transport

of chlorophyll far more certain

than law or reason

and the stopped blood of embryos

stiff in the wombs

of dusk-colored sows    electroweak physics

of augers and lock-nuts

the stripped threads in the brain cells of suicides

physics of palms scored with

the miraculous portents of scars     oh physics

of the bent reflection glancing

from scales

woven down the sleek tails

of mermaidens

and mermen    physics of stones in the ears

of children dead in the smoking bog

oh physics of the charm and sundry

flavors of massless quarks neutrons

and triggering wires hidden in the shopping

bag of the rabid terrorist

oh chromodynamic

physics of the broken thigh bones

stars burn into the graph

paper mapping the known galaxies and unknown

sing us the threads

of legends written by bosons twisting antigens

toward dissolution, recite

cautionary tales latent in the dumb gravity of acidic

striations, stumbling to cinders

short of the finish line

manifest for us the myths shaped

by the chirality

of fermions strung through the twisted dimensions

of mushmillions

rampant in supermarkets     oh physics give us back

our names to us in the language

of plasma neutrino and strangeness tell us

the geodesic parameters within

the hocus-

pocus sea of photons we live

and lives us    empty

and filled with the chant of cell star and physics

oh physics


Some mornings the mirror meets

me with a surprising message

in its face. The words run down

the glass, trickle into my brain,

to tell me I am twenty years

younger than when I went to sleep.

I look again and believe: I do

look younger. It is not a dream.

Somehow neurons babbled

the alphabet backwards sweeping

the letters and time in a spiral

and I am thirty-seven again.

Other days I wake to find the night

has triple-timed the clock, torn

the pages from the calendar

like a confetti shower of numbers.

My brain has leapt the gaps that hold

the century in place, and I am many

decades beyond my own good sense

and belief, deep into the ravages

of an age I never dreamed I would reach.

Most days, though, I forget my age,

the year now and the number of years

past have vanished, leaving me unaware

of the messages I see everywhere.

Elfie's Quantum Thoughts

Elfie tells me everyone has

got time backwards. She peels

an orange and the skin

ribbons a spiral, lightly

bouncing in space. Time, she

says, should be reversed.

The fruit flesh squirts juice

in her eye. Squinting, she says

she should have seen that

coming. She dabs lashes and

cheek with her shirt sleeve.

You know what I mean?

I nod, though I don't. She

eyes me, as if she knows

I'm pretending to. It's like

this, she says. Time's pushing

us forward when we should

be pushing it ahead of us.

I nod, Elfie bites into the orange,

I gather the peeling into a coil

like a sprung moebius strip.

About the Author

Malcolm Glass


Over the past sixty-five years, Malcolm Glass has published a dozen books of poetry and non-fiction. His poems, fiction, and articles have appeared in many journals, including “Poetry” (Chicago), “Prairie Schooner,” “The Vanderbilt Review,” “The Linking Ring,” and “The Sewanee Review.” His newest collection of poems, “Mirrors, Myths, and Dreams” was released by Finishing Line Press in 2018.