Philip Fried

Singularities in Everyday Life

In boyhood’s galactic epoch, outer space
began at my feet, and singularities
were a frequent phenomenon. They freckled
the TV screen as pixels, gobbling attention
most when they clustered to form personalities
like Pinky Lee, Lucy, and Buffalo Bob,
leaving as residue on the event horizon
our couch-bound bodies. Also, the speckled blue
linoleum on my bedroom floor, a flattened
infinity, was riddled with many micro-
black holes that swallowed up hosts of plastic soldiers
as my bare knees rested atop a billion stars.

But the optimum region for the generation
of collapsed supergravitational matter
was mom and dad’s closet, where singularities
like moths were fashioning gaps in dresses and suits.
From the absence of bodies and the array of personae
dangling from hangers, I detected a cosmic
crime scene, confirmed by the serried ranks of empty
shoes whispering, conspiring to step out
on their own in the universe. Black holes were pul-
lulating throughout my life and one even crushed
my formidable grandpa gripped by its minute
supermassive deformed region of spacetime.

Sunday in the Park

How sweet to stroll through the Garden of Gestures at sunrise
in Humanity Memorial Park. As you enter
the Alley of Shrugging Shoulders lined on left
and right by videos of headless torsos
miming “unsolvable problem, what can one do?”
the sun will bathe your face in radiant light.

Pause at the rolling Meadows of Futility
where a scatter of scarecrows with wisps of straw representing
their open palms extended to the side
are attired in Prada, Chanel, and de la Renta —
hung-over guardians of bonhomie,
feeling under the weather, far and wide.

Bring your own lunch and at noontime eat by the Fountain
of Flood and Drought where a plaque admonishes,
“Beware, the water!” Admire the verdigrised sculptures
of water-seekers that warily circle the basin,
lion, lamb, and little child, frozen
together in need, refugees from the Peaceable Kingdom.

Toward evening the vacant bandshell stage will feature
a lightshow from the situation room’s
computer screens and tv’s with politicians
pantomiming orations as the strains
of martial music can almost be heard in the darkening
silence concluding your Sunday in the park.

Philip Fried
has published eight books of poetry, including Squaring the Circle (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2017), Interrogating Water (Salmon, 2014), and the forthcoming Among the Gliesians (Salmon, 2020). Carol Rumens recently selected his poem “Yoga for Leaders and Others” for her anthology Smart Devices: 52 poems from The Guardian ‘Poem of the Week’, due out from Carcanet in November.