Every moment is appropriate
For poetry, but try titrating
A solution at a funeral, or dissecting
A frog at a Bris: you won’t get far.

Math certainly has a part to play
In life. We all remember
The equation of marriage—
Add the bed, subtract the clothes,
Divide the legs and multiply—
But do not bring a linear accelerator
To the reading of the banns,
Or a Geiger counter to a rehearsal

Poetry on the other hand,
Is expected everywhere all the time—
Drunk in Dubuque? Try a limerick.
Getting divorced? How about a limerick?
Favorite niece having another
Illegitimate child?
Again, I’d have to go with
A limerick.

But our weightiest moments—
The end of the world, the last day of youth,
A first failed attempt at love—
Call for both science and art,
This is the function that describes
Our slow parting, our gradual
Embrace, the cycle of your
Breath, the precise color
Of your pale blue eyes.

This function should be
Should be solvable
With the right instrumentation,
With expert calibration.
That’s where poems
Come in. This is what we want
Them to do, but they
Don’t do, won’t do, because
Poems are merely instructions
For the improbable machinery
Of the heart.


Continue to “Dead Souls”

About the Work

Carl James Grindley

Carl James Grindley grew up on an island off the West Coast of Canada, and studied in the US and Europe. He has taught creative writing at Yale University and works at The City University of New York. Three of his novellas were published in 2008 by No Record Press under the name Icon. He has upcoming work in Eunoia Review, Anastomoo, and Atticus Review.

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