Sunday, July 11, 2010

Two Poems

Two poems by Jamie McKendrick, whose work I first became aware of through the Poems on the Underground program. They're a brilliant example of how poetic doesn't have to mean vague and ignorant or science, none of this Keatsian Negative Capability crap.

On Nothing

I do not think it is absurd for you to say that nothing is something,
since no one can deny that ‘nothing’ is a noun.

                                                        -- Anselm of Canterbury

If nothing is the opposite of something
then it too is something and not nothing.
Or is that just language rushing in
to fill what makes the intellect recoil?

It’s us not nature that abhors a vacuum,
though in frictionless space there’s still a fraction
more than nothing, if not enough of it
to slow the planets in their orbits.

But the full moon hides its emptiness
and every plenitude its opposite;
the present buckles into nowlessness

that lasts for never as a dark star draws
downward threads of light. There nothing exists,
crouching like a sphinx among the rubble.

Out There
If space begins at an indefinite zone
where the chance of two gas molecules colliding
is rarer than a green dog or a blue moon
then that’s as near as we’ll get to nothing.

Nostalgia for the Earth and its atmosphere
weakens the flesh and bones of cosmonauts
One woke to find his crewmate in a space suit
and asked where he was going. For a walk.

He had to sleep between him and the air-lock.
Another heard a dog bark and a child cry
halfway to the moon. What once had been

where heaven was, is barren beyond imagining,
and never so keenly as from out there can
the lost feel earth’s the only paradise.