Pulse

What of the drum

its timbre a taut

membrane between

beat and rest

systole/

            diastole

pounding blood to the surface,

twinning one’s body

to the world.

If you give yourself to it,

find yourself on a riverbank at night

padding a cadence barefoot

until mud oozes up between the toes,

your heart lies open

beneath the animal hide

stretched across a hollow log

holding on

                        registering a pulse.

Ghosts

We see him sometimes up

there on his stilted walks

Lunging forward in the light

as if by accident

So far we’ve let him be

whenever he wanders nearby

speaking of things

we don’t understand

Down here we try

to live simply

We weigh a man’s worth

by the freedom he possesses

and which possesses him

That seems fair

to all concerned

Yet there are times

when a shadow follows him

and one wonders

if there isn’t something we should do

Just to ease his mind

or maybe our own

He seems to regard us as something needful

to believe he still inhabits

a place among the living

It can be troubling

thinking of ourselves that way

Maybe that’s all we are though

it’s difficult to find anyone to ask.

Mt. Greylock Dawn

Slant can’t calculate

the wise course.

The sun circles

this mountain,

carries wind

in its wake.

The accomplice

of what

we don’t know,

fear whistles at night

and silence

awaits the intrepid.

History shows

civilizations

have been built

on less

than

this.

Be Sure to Show Your Work

The square root of two is not one,

as anyone can tell you

who has measured the perimeter of a relationship.

Angles pose a significant problem:

when they are obtuse the shortest distance

between two persons becomes a null set.

On the other hand, if the logarithms aren’t right

a couple will have difficulty

solving for why on the axis of love.

If a man leaves his wife heading north

at the speed of infinity

and she circles irrationally at a periodic interval

less than or equal to the probability of convergence,

how long will it take them to intersect

at the lowest common denominator,

assuming the hypotenuse is not

an imaginary sea creature?

Artifact

I sensed

I stopped

beheld

was beheld in turn

in wonder

doubting

I redoubled

what was singular about me

preening to stay alive

a ghost shadow

of the nuclear past

leaving a signature

on the world’s face

come what might

like a ball balanced

atop a waterspout

according to chance.

A.J. Sorrentino was born in New York City and currently lives in western Massachusetts. His poetry arises from the intersection of imagination and language to explore the way perception shapes the world. He is the author of the chapbook Being Still, and his poems have appeared in Meat for Tea and other regional publications.

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