JONATHAN DUCKWORTH

Have You Noticed

 

That ‘pedantic’ is a pedantic word,

and that in today’s black swan world,

recourse to call something ‘esoteric’

is as exotic as the quixotic is erotic?

 

That these days no one

ever wends round the bend

to vend their mendings,

not because they can’t,

but because ‘I Goodwilled it’

rolls off the tongue

and sounds so damn dynamic?

 

That we lost the vocative case

and O boy,

do we miss it?

 

That prescriptivists and normative linguists

are forever gagging on Hume’s fork

after swallowing it with their slice of humble pie,

washed down with a splash of febrile Fée Verte?

 

That some say a language ‘deteriorates’

when its lexicon gets richer? 

Fossils

 

“Teach me your mood, O patient stars!
Who climb each night the ancient sky,
Leaving on space no shade, no scars,
No trace of age, no fear to die.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

O Emerson,

those stars of yours aren’t patient.

They’re always pulling at each other,

grappling with their sundry satellites,

comets, accreted astral alluvia, (etcetera)

wrinkling with their tug of war

space-time’s fabric as jostling knees

muss a once-smoothed bedsheet.

And they do leave scars on space;

shades so deep even light won’t escape.

But of course you can’t be blamed

if your gilded orrery didn’t account

for gravitic quirks of general relativity.

 

Trust me, you’re best not asking

anything from the likes of the stars.

Those supercilious celestial strumpets

send out snapshots of their shining selves

even eons after they’ve lapsed to darkness.

More than vain, they’re inconsiderate—

Bio: Jonathan Louis Duckworth is a current MFA student at Florida International University in Miami, where he works as a teaching assistant. He also serves as a reader and copy-editor for the Gulf Stream Literary Magazine. His work appears in or is set to appear in Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Crab Fat Literary Magazine, the Kudzu Review, and Sliver of Stone Magazine. 

going supernova just when life’s evolving;

sending out waves of gamma radiation

to shuck the ozone from our firmament

and cull our oceans of whole genera.

 

Snap back down to Earth, O Poet,

to the Zen of shale and Tao of tar,

to fossils content to wait in static dark,

on the slim chance they’ll be unearthed—

untroubled that the hands that find them

may toss them into a concrete mixer,

never thinking to turn the stones over

and trace with their trembling fingers

a trilobite’s sedimentary daguerreotype,

or the lithographed latticework left

by a meganeura monyi’s wings at rest.