you are in the diode archives fall 2009



Erdös to God

For his epitaph Paul Erdös suggested,
“I’ve finally stopped getting dumber.”
(“Végre nem butulok tovább.”)            

I doubt You but wish You would not hide my socks and Hungarian passport. Why must you keep the most elegant proofs in The Book? You said (in Your big voice) Go forth and multiply, and though I had no boss or upsilon, multiply I did: theory, theorem, article and postulate. I’ve wandered as the tribes did, more than 40 years, owned little, cared less, traversed a linked list of colleague and concept without proving You exist, or don’t. It does not matter. At three years of age, I’d calculate for friends how many seconds they had lived. And so I ask . . . have You counted my remaining days? Hope is the square root of two (poor Hippasus drowned for – in? – his knowledge) or three, or pi – I must admit, I thought I might be irrational, headed for infinitude, no pattern to my path or perhaps I’d reach 175 like father Abraham (his prime!) but lately I suspect, though my brain is open, there’s an end to my expansion – that You and Time are whole and real and rational, the rest of us fractional at best, allowed only a glimpse into (the fleeting satisfaction of solution) what we call (for lack of an eloquent number) the Sublime.



We pass the 10 commandments, block-stenciled
on signs along this study

in beige. Sound counsel—hands to yourself, manage
your rage: take a class.

Across the median, drivers surrender
produce or lie about it—I once did—no, sir, nothing healthy
here, sir, I’m certain, the scent of fresh
citrus, my girlish perfume. An enormous rubber

duck, a gilt pick-up truck: oddities flare
where (landscape bare)

everything can be absorbed
in lieu of constant choosing.

We race a grain-carrying train,
its serpentine path among Joshua trees

awkward as teens spackled
by a mirror-ball.  Please explain to me

tumbleweed, genus Salsola, a diaspore, spreading
its seed, minus the metaphor

but you can’t refrain: Apart from its seed,
tumbleweed is dead. At the foyer of Death Valley,

I think, if you were once a lake, surely I am
capable of change. Exit 239,

Zzyzx Road,
begs to be spoken then denies the tongue

its due. Windmills reiterate
above it all. Neon says OPEN—statement

or command, we don’t know, but there
is a dog on a hill of dirt, his stance

framed by mountain-range crepe and crinoline. No

snow, yet: we drive toward and for it.
The Sierra Nevada concede

to give lessons on stature and posture,
and there it is, the tallest thermometer

in the world—could this be true?—measuring, ever-
measuring, as are you.



At 3 a.m. the moon klieg-lights my yard.
John and Anton Kleigl would be proud
though the pageant contestants have shed their sashes
behind the bleachers.
Exit, pursued by a bear.
When was the last time I read “A Winter’s Tale”? Why do you ask?
Read, write, read, write—now I watch, wait.

I used to know a lot
about lights – how they made
the world a stage, turned night to day
often using a fresnel, a lens invented by Augustin-Jean Fresnel.
French guy.
You can’t escape
what you’ve read, what you’ve done, where you’re from:
Shakespeare, lied, Detroit.

Ursa Major named
for Callisto. Could I have a star?
This limited moment—you, you there, is it me or the moment?
Now three oh one.
The yard awaits its script, its cast.
All of us infatuated with the ingénue.
He won’t show up ‘til dawn.
That’s when he’ll give back my soul.
So he said.  


Patty Seyburn has published three books of poems: Hilarity (New Issues Press, 2009), Mechanical Cluster (Ohio State University Press, 2002) and Diasporadic (Helicon Nine Editions, 1998). She is an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach, and  co-editor of POOL: A Journal of Poetry, based in Los Angeles.