after Boethius

III.7 Habet hoc voluptas omnis

First the hypnosis
As the hive buzzes,
Issuing dank and honeyed promises;

Lust for the rose-
Gold-tinted ooze
Makes you forget the swarm, the sting, the bruise.

II.4 Quisquis volet perennem

The man who cannot hope to own
A house unless he takes a loan
He’ll still be paying off when he
Is on Social Security
Might daydream of a terraced perch
On Venice or Miami Beach,
Watching the wave that scours and breaks
In sizzling phosphorescent flakes,
Swimming naked in a balmy
California January,
Breathing Floridian perfume
Of sunscreen, alchohol and brine;
But then, remembering the jolt
Preparing in the coastal fault,
The timber-smashing wind and rain
Of yearly Force Five hurricanes,
He thinks it wiser to invest
In the dry, steady, flat Midwest,
Where a small plot of solid ground
Won’t lift you up or let you drown.
So when the great catastrophe
Arrives, he’ll watch it on TV,
See pixilated fire or flood
Destroy his almost-neighborhood,
And piously reiterate
His law of life and real estate:
The best investment’s one that earns
Small but reliable returns.

V.3 Quaenam discors foedera rerum

Something is missing. When the telescope
Anxiously scans a sector of the night,
The numbers streaming in do not add up;
The universe would be too cold or hot,
Too dense or empty, if it weren’t for
Dimensions that won’t let themselves be caught.
Why is it that this absence reassures?
Dividing what we know by what we see,
We always find that permanent remainder,
The margin of an old perplexity
Now justified and even rational;
For somewhere, it is certain, there must be
The light, remembered, hypothetical,
That once made our dark matter visible.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 26 Number 7, on page 27
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