Word Poetry




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Sample Poems by Richard Hague


The Self Electric, Whitmanesque,
Shapes Up Along Lines of Force

"Electricity is not a thing, like St. Paul's Cathedral; it
is a way in which things behave."
--Bertrand Russell

Having just stepped out
"to look up in perfect silence at the stars,"
having just remembered that in any beginning
"is the Word,"
having listened to Ginsberg's "Sunflower Sutra"
with its blossom and locomotive,
its marriages of soul and machine,
power and spirit,
here and now and there and forever,
having labored amid vocabularies vast
as any body, and as beautiful,
I step out, reader, hoping you will step
out with me, seekingly with me:

Field, influence, harmonic venturing:
I find I spread myself wider and higher,
find that I am pulling myself into existence
"by my own bootstraps,"
the gravity of my curiosity bending spacetime
towards me, capturing all, eating it as if prey
in delight's digestion and transformations,

And so I grow out toward edges, shores, clearings,
eddies aside from the current but
still remembering and driven by its flow,
transition zones,
frontiers, borders,
places where form and phase
begin to transform:
I seek out the dance of All,
seek out whirl and spin and
that old god Proteus,
father of bold Kinesis,
father of that beauty Turbulence.

I want to dance the tarantella
with his daughters,
(they are my daughters, too,
beautiful thoughts and hunches),
play the chord for hydrogen,
sing the spectrum of neon,
occupy the cloudy realm of electrons,
hover and swoop and
blink like neutrino in and out,
on and off, being and not-being,
explore the worm-holed grainy basement
of things, crunch the time-stuff underfoot
like the gravel from matter's flood,
look out over it all smiling and
cry, "We're home."

I want to hug unto myself
all children, dreams, poems, curses,
and smile, enlarge, dilate, discourse and deliver,
and then puff them all toward heaven
like the nimbus of dandelion.

Student jocular, intuitive, irregular,
scholar-father wild and impertinent,
mother-physicist of the improbable and invisible unfinished,
cousin mechanical of the line and syllogism and seed,

I follow along,
seeking my work through the dust ahead,
(O what great destruction, there,
what dark stories, what explosions?)
seeking physics through the growth and scrub of time,
hearing always its music
like singing far down in the woods,
that trough of moist darkness and hours,
hearing always its music high up on the ridge,
that crest in the slow wave of land,
hearing it even now
in the astronomer's charts and numbers,
in her tallys of force and speed,
and in harvest's first shoots and leaves:

I see now
I have been fitted to this energy and flow,
its case and premises my flesh,
its terminals and summations
my eyes and ears and fingers.

I am potent, ready.
I am its battery and array,
its brief and argument,
its load and spark and signal:

I await your telling discharge of me, cosmos,
O my soul.


In A Collective Nightmare, Mr. M Instructs
The Whole Class: "Just Smile And Nod"

If I tell you that physics is poetry,
just smile and nod.

If I tell you it is only in physics
that we can begin to understand
the shape of God, the heft of her form,
the subtlety of her body,
just smile and nod.

If I tell you that there is nothing more
beautiful than physics,
and that suffering is beauty,
just smile and nod.

If I tell you in the first photograph
of an atomic bomb, a split-second
into its explosion, God's face appeared,
appalled, in the fireball,
just smile and nod.
Like you,
I did not believe these things at first.


Mr. M Accelerates

Mr. M stands at the board,
a diagram of the universe
behind him. "Do not think
it is contained," he warns,
pointing at the border
of the slate. "Indeed, it goes on,
continuing to accelerate
from its center,
which, like Nicholas of Cusa's God,
is everywhere
and nowhere."

I grip my desktop,
suddenly furious with stillness.
I want to catch up,
accelerate past the
Big Bang, get out
in front of its expansion
and ride like a surfer
the very break and plunge
of energy into matter,

hang ten into infinity,
catch up with Mr. M,
who seems to stand still
before us in class, twirling his chalk,
but who secretly hot-dogs it
high on the curl of All,
then laughs in the roar
of the Nothing or Everything
he pipelines,
out there way beyond us.