Classical Mechanics of Materialism

We no longer live together, but I know what you do today
the same wind reaches from here to Jackson Heights,
the same sun rays find you, find me,
as far as they’ve traveled, a few miles east
makes little difference. Time makes little difference,
we are who we are, which is how I know

the breeze riffled your papers, economics midterms
from capital students—you tell them all economy
is the economy of time, they think time is money,
and you spend another semester gazing at the door.
Today, you notice the sun, the wind,
you take a drink of water from a glass
you poured two days ago. Millions of years old,
two days in a glass makes little difference.
Time makes little difference.

Someone else watched you while you slept
and so did Karl Marx from a framed picture
with the stony eyes of people in old photographs
who kept still long enough for their reflection to etch.
You don’t see how his face worked to control
each strand of his beard—
the kind of beard that scratches you clean.
Pictures can’t mean without thoughts
and I don’t know whether memory or pattern
makes me itch when I see that famous photograph.
Marx himself carried in his pocket a daguerreotype
of his father and showed it only to friends.

We no longer live together, but I recall how
readily streets obey a grid in your neighborhood.
I can visualize the way to Travers Park, past blocks
of sari stores, bodegas, and newsstands.
Today you hustle across asphalt, navigate a maze
of chain link fencing, to claim a basketball court,
still empty, before the kids come and laugh at you
shooting baskets in your bourgeois clothes and
proletarian shoes. You remove your budget watch
and tie, set them on the parched bench.

When you play, you play a concert
for the human soul. Today the sound
of the ball on concrete bounces between your ears,
rattles your teeth, keeps your hands tough.


by Alexis Petri


AlexisPetriHS2017 (1 of 1)Alexis Petri recently returned to writing poetry and has a master’s degree in English. For the past 20 years, she has been kicking down the doors of academia to better serve post-traditional students. She has helped preschool teachers earn degrees in early childhood, military veterans earn degrees in STEM fields, as well as tailoring supports for college students with learning disabilities. She enjoys reading, writing, teaching, taking pictures, exploring abandoned places, volunteering, and fixing up her old house.

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