The Algol Paradox


Newton’s First Law: “Every object persists in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straightforward line

Imagine three-inch heels clack, clack, clacking
on the freshly waxed and polished floor;
see her crown just mown in a sexy boyish way.
Run your palms over her red race car hugging
curve of a dress and inhale her perfume contrail;
a thick, sweet smothering on honey scent,
reeking of arrogance.

Now picture his back at the chalkboard.  See his gray
wallet worn corduroy pants and frayed clown suspenders;
walk-a-bout his head decaying and browse his bushy beard.
Watch him turn to face the class with blue eyes piercing
and wait to speak his name.

Hover above us for an hour, as we watch with cataract-covered eyes
as the chalky green fills with equations.  Sneak up behind us and sniff
the fear in our silence.  Read our thoughts: “The syllabus was clear
– no math pre-requisites”.  Understand we crave narrative – not numbers,
of a universe unfolding – hoping that knowing a waxing from waning moon might get us more than just a
goodnight kiss as we stumble home drunk in the early morning light.

unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed on it.”

At first break notice the downcast eyes of her classmates as she slowly stands up.  See the short dress and high heels
egging her on as her syllabus shaking hand extracts an explanation.  Watch him squirm; confused, thinking the math
isn’t even difficult.  Understand her threat when she insists a course change is in order if he wants them to return.  Cringe
as the child’s wooden chair/desk he is wedged in, strips him of any power he thought he might possess.  Watch her
soften, as she looks into his sad puppy eyes, saggy and kind, as he tells her she has nothing to fear.  Notice him stare at
her brick-red lips, when she says “fine” in the snarly tone of the unenlightened.

Newton’s Third Law: For Every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite re-action.”

In the dampness of your car, that eternal rainy spring, you will watch her return week after week, her posse in tow.
You will doze in the back of the room, half listening to lectures on stellar evolution, the solar system, stars, the history
of astronomy, comets, and galaxies and her favorite celestial neighbor – the Moon.  On one cool, clear sky evening, he
will haul his telescope from the back of his moldy blue Ford Pinto (parked next to her new Audi) and you will see her
face yield to an unseen force.  Secretly you watch her eyes memorize his lanky, lean frame, his faded jeans with a knee
emerging, his North Face jacket – cerulean blue that match his sky bright eyes.

For her first view of the night sky, you will huff beside her on the way to the roof, eavesdropping as she whispers to her
classmate girlfriend “well he seems to be a bit uptight, a bit uncomfortable in his own skin, but he does have a nice ass.”
Her friend will cock her head, stare into her eyes and smugly laugh, “What he needs is a good fuck.”   Her cheeks flood
crimson as you hear her silent plan to beat her to the punch.


Alpha Centauri,
Epsilon Lyrae,
their mysteries became my salvation,
their light-my hope,
their beauty-my desire
their distance-my loneliness
their teacher-my friend,
my lover,
my binary star
the scientist who ripped
my world open,
the first time I looked
through the telescope lens
and he said
“can you see them?”
as I searched for the
Rings of Saturn
in the universe
that birthed me.
Thanking the Gods
I didn’t believe in,
(yet how could I not)
for Einstein, Galileo, Newton;
the patient midwives,
who delivered me-
in one greedy gulping cosmic breath,
covered in stardust and blood,
to my beginning ending place-
that sweet black hole burial-

a mere star shooting by.

First published in Cirque, A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim Volume 3, No. 2 Summer Solstice 2012


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