An Infinite Regress

Let's talk about two everyday phrases...

The title of this is also the title of an episode of StarTrek Voyager, this has nothing to do with the poem and I had quite forgotten it when I was writing.

The repeated phrase in this also features prominently in Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads, which of course I hadn't forgotten because pop lyrics heard in your youth stay with you forever.

However I wasn't thinking of that song when I encountered the phrase in some other context, I think it might have been a short story, whereupon the following poem eventuated itself...

...can "eventuate" be reflexive?  Well it can now...

An infinite regress

And you might find yourself...

...the only survivor of an arctic expedition
looking strangely svelte and gravy-fed
not troubling to explain, the pain
of others being such a thing
as only small attention should be paid to

and you might think yourself the victim
of such an awkward and cool kind of celebrity
sipping tea in your almost empty white living-room
the clamour of the journalists muted

because you do not care and never
read their black/white pointless text
oh they will want you to confess

but you don't understand to what
and you might find yourself

smiling, slightly, at their frustration.

And you might find yourself...

...on edge for reasons that you cannot know
and it seems you are alone
in the lavishly appointed flat
that has been retrofitted into the bulk
of impressive brick and ex-industrial premises

where in nineteen forty-one
your grandfather was once an apprentice
and there might be for you the strangest stir
of what may just be guilt, but...

you might say that yes, it is a shame
that all those people are not now employed
but then again, you might recall your Granddad

speaking and reflect that conditions weren't
precisely good, or maybe you might simply say

things change and that is just their way.

And you might find yourself...

...falling, for no apparent reason
from low Earth orbit where somewhere
behind you Telstar mocks.  And as you fall,
the air streaming hot and red past surprise
engraved upon your face.  You first pass angels

who hang head-down at the edge of space.
You pass the weather balloons.  You pass
the airliners and wave, briefly at a small child framed
behind thick plastic and hope

they restore their tray to the upright position
before they land.  You pass the eagles, and then
the buzzards, the crows, the pigeons...

and as the ground approaches
you look around, with some surprise, and say

Hey!  I used to live around here.

And you might find yourself...

...trapped in a elevator on the ninety-second floor
with a hologram of a long dead ex...
and you might find yourself a little
stuck for words in this, the least apologisable
of all possible worlds.  And eventually you'd ask:

How have you been?  And they might shrug
and look away as the elevator lurches
and begins to descend, faster and faster
the numbers on the L.E.D display blurring

the cables at first whirring
and then screaming and you might look
in vain for the access panel in the roof

(which no real elevator has, it is
a Hollywood thing) and you might curse

Hollywood as the hologram flicks off.

And you might find yourself...

...alone in the cold dark place.

And you might find yourself...

...playing poker for days of life.

And you might find yourself...

...the only person in the world
who understands one certain word
that everybody else uses.

And you might find yourself...

...rotating slowly counterclockwise.

And you might find yourself...

...attempting to interpret
what's alleged to be your life.

And you might find yourself...

...stuck in a poetry reading
where the poet has apparently entered
an infinite regress.



Alternative Forms of Government
(an occasional series)

Number 4


Tony and Linda, you played your Joker but you haven't matched enough policies with the studio audience.  So you're The Opposition for this next round...

Sue and Doug, you got your legislation through Quickfire Questions, and you've banked a small majority which you can take with you when you go home this evening.  You're only two rounds away from a chance of forming a government in "Stuuuf the Chamber!"

Now, however, it's time to Spin the Issues!

(Jangly Music and flashing lights.  Enormous wheel slides in the the side.)

Bob!  What have we got on the wheel tonight?

[Voice over] Well Larry we have a minor scandal about administering healthcare, that's worth fifty votes; the usual tabloid noise about immigration and foreigners, that's only twenty; but Sue and Doug will be hoping to hit our Bonus Topic of a warmongering overseas leader who's invaded one of his neighbours!  There's a whole Two hundred votes hanging on that one!!

Thank you Bob.  Now, are you feeling lucky Doug, Sue?  Yes?  Well come on down and SPIN TO WIN!!!

While we are spinning for Susan and Douglas, let me remind the viewers at home that they can phone in their support.  
To support Sue and Doug, just dial 728-555-MAJORITY-1 and try to match get a row of three votes in the grid.  To support Tony and Linda, the opposition, dial 728-555-MAJORITY-2 and guess how next week's celebrities will fill-in the blanks in the proposed amendment.

After the break we'll see how Sue and Doug are doing, and whether they're likely to come back next week to play in the Second House!!!!


Making out with Proteus

I've not posted enough this year.

But I did post during NoPoWriMo and one of the poems was There's very much a multiverse - a casual, and probably acausal, dissection of life in a quantum multiverse.

Proteus is the eldest son of Poseidon; called the Old Man of the Sea, he is a shapeshifter.  He could also foretell the future, but hated to do so.  Probably because of the temporal turbulence that causes.  So, to make him do it you had to wrestle him and he would turn into horrible things...

In that poem I committed a sin of a type that used to annoy Douglas Adams so much that he created an improbable sperm whale as a way of getting back at us about it.  e.g. I created a character for the reader to care about, and then discarded them without explanation.

OK, I didn't kill her off, but I did leave her in a quantum superposition of pkissed = 0.5 and ppunched = 0.5.

I subsequently felt a bit bad about her situation.  I thought I should get her out of it.

She turned out bisexual in the process.  There's no social or political meaning behind that, it's just that in her world anybody can become anything, so what can you do...

Anyway, to quote Adams again: This is her tale...

Making out with Proteus

And when our lips meet, his face unfolds
not à la Hellraiser or Resident Evil
but more like topology, mathematical;
an object that, rotating, shows
where I thought it simple, I was wrong...

...it seems we're every one of us a world, cityscape, a throng,
a crowd scene filmed in Technicolor and
just as I think I have absorbed that one
there folds out of the multitude a female face.
So I kiss that too.

I'm taller and she tilts her head,
there's just a touch of breath across my lips,
before they brush on hers.  There is no rush,
but when I pull back, wanting to see her eyes,
she winks

and then her whole body unfolds.
And I half fall, and step, but now I'm walking
through her... him... them... the plurality
ambiguity meaning nothing, in this unplaced untime
and they are still unfolding all around

and I'm walking through their whole world now:
past a booth, where a bakelite telephone is ringing,
through faded dark green curtains onto
a late-night street with distant drunken singing,
towards the only open place: a coffee shop

and as I go I feel the ghosts of kisses,
punches, traffic accidents, hands on zips, caresses
the flash of lust,
or possibly tactical nukes,
the glass in front of me explodes

the world goes dark
and the spinning fragments form a field of stars
so vast and deep and hungry now I know
that this is perfect love for me
a warm heart-shaped infinity, not limited

to any single name, identity or gender,
not always tender, not even always undoomed,
but although infinities can come in different sizes,
my subset of the multiverse is precisely
the same size as the whole.  I can choose,

if I wish, only to live the lives
where I'm with this lover,
and infinity again, is still as large
after this dissection.
It is the working of affection

to compute the intersection
of every possible world where there's a you
with every world where there's a me
and love the result
and if I now take one more step,

I can kiss the stars.