poems as hand- and foot-holds on a glass mountain

Axis Excess



Let me graph it for you, she said

and went to find some paper 

covered with those tiny boxes

all but begging to be filled in.

She came back with a ruler, a sharpened #2 

and began plotting and sketching in arduous detail:

the national debt against summer wild-fires 

the sword-play of currency exchange rates 

student loan debt by year and generation

national healthcare costs against the loss of Arctic ice mass

the yearly cost of the Afghan War per casualty

the carbon breath of a million engines against sea level rise.


Mark Twain said there are lies, damned lies

and then statistics

but at least they are presentable

compared to screaming rants,

she said hopefully, adding

that The Real won’t be constrained by boxes;

It is inexpressible but compels expression

think of this graph as an image in depth

not only an X-axis and a Y-axis 

but as an infinite number of axes

drawn through any imagined point,

axes of a fixed length describing a beach ball

or of an infinite variety of lengths describing the universe

stationary or spinning, fast or slow.

Think of the graph paper before the graphs

before the boxes, just a blank page

then as tree pulp being processed

then as a tall tree after unthinking years from seed

lying briefly in a clearcut; open, vulnerable, 

indifferent to our uses and abuses.


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