Fall Flat

By Fred Pollack

The nurses have just administered

various painful ablutions and

injections when the chief of my doctors 

(but does anyone but me

perceive that hierarchy?) rushes in.

Barely able to see him, I imagine

(being always on the lookout

for dare I say hope?) his transcendent expression,

and ask, “Has someone transplanted

a central nervous system? Have nano-explosives

for the deepest tumors emerged from the corporate pipeline,

or a 3D-printed liver?” “No,” he replies

with swiftly inserted sadness.

“But the cosmologists have determined

the universe as a whole has only two

dimensions! This solves major problems in string theory.

The third is an illusion we project.”

I share his excitement. Am reluctant, however,

to apply the new finding to

my wife, displaced by the nurses and

asleep in the corridor – 

she must remain round and whole. But other things

become instantly simpler, questions

dissolve. My childhood was Dürer etchings.

Then the manga of midlife gave way

to what I should have started with: box house

with chimney, yellow sun, stick limbs.

The course of society

was a bold, developing cartoon;

intellect, like nature, a steady drive

towards minimalism. The bare, schematic arcs

of that early Mondrian tree were not branches

but birds (which I haven’t seen in a while),

departing or landing. I try to extend 

my hand to the doc, to signal thanks, to say

If depth is gone, one need no longer drown,

but he too is a layer to peel 

away. Farewell, old hologram … it’s been real.

Fred Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both Story Line Press; the former to be reissued by Red Hen Press. Two collections of shorter poems, A POVERTY OF WORDS, (Prolific Press, 2015) and LANDSCAPE WITH MUTANT (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018). Pollack has appeared in Salmagundi, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Fish Anthology (Ireland), Magma (UK), Bateau, Fulcrum, Chiron Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, etc. 

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