At the Art Museum
by Lee Slonimsky
The dream recurs again and then again:
“Johannes Kepler was a genius,” I
tell some small group—museum tour, this time—
“but K thought atoms nonsense. In the end,
there’s no perfection and we needn’t try
for that. You see, he had a truly wondrous mind,
discovered how the planets move, the shapes
of orbits. And he was enlightened too,
on peace between religions, no one truth.”
The crowd is apathetic as always;
it’s Kepler who turns out to be my friend
among them but he’s dead for centuries.
(I hate to criticize but facts are facts:
genius flames with vision but can lack
a comprehensive knowledge of earth’s genes.)
I gaze absorbed at a small portrait, “Ghost”;
it hangs alone on the far wall, next to
a window that looks on a gleaming sea,
then opens with a creak, lets in a breeze.
And all of this the craft of atoms: rust
on window hinge, beige wall, wood floor, bright sky,
the group that wanders, Kepler’s name, and me.
Lee Slonimsky’s work has appeared in Best of Asheville Poetry Review, California Quarterly, The Carolina Quarterly, Measure, Mudfish, The New York Times, New Ohio Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Phi Kappa Phi Forum, and Poetry Daily, and has received seven Pushcart Prize nominations. A chapbook co-authored with poet Katherine Hastings, Slow Shadow/White Delirium, was published by Word Temple Press of Santa Rosa, California, this past September. Lee’s fifth collection of poems, Wandering Electron, will be published in 2014 by Spuyten Duyvil Press of New York City. He is the co-author, along with his wife, Hammett Prize-winning mystery writer Carol Goodman, of the Lee Carroll Black Swan Rising trilogy (Tor Books). The final installment, The Shape Stealer, appeared earlier this year. Lee manages an SRI (“socially responsible investing”) hedge fund, Ocean Partners LP, which takes a special interest in companies with hiring programs for the developmentally disabled.