Four decades later
we’re all blabbermouths
adrift on a sea of hyperbole
shouting to be heard. — Steve Rushin, Sports Illustrated, 1 Apr. 2002
In this mathematically mediocre nation
it may be difficult
for the algebraically disabled
to accurately determine variables
of the directrix—
I may not even understand this
though Socrates might parade me
before an amazed assembly of elitists
to illustrate how, behold, this under-
educated daughter of the working class
exposed to field rows and grain silos
innately does grasp lines of symmetry,
parallel rays, and cones sliced into curves—
but how to reduce Point A
at one distant end of a horizontal axis
to a singular finite cause—
a virus, a hubris, too much airtime to fill,
no handler, no filter—
this craving for simplicity
usually leads down some slippery slope
or a continuum of faulty causation
(thereby corrupting validity
of the vertical axis)—an injustice
just as sure as
when geometry is involved
I likely know not whereof I speak.
I am but deaf when promises echo
from a hollow chamber;
when an ellipse of a Center of Interest
encased in its own circular (s)hell
wherein it is both central
and the two fix’d points
adding up to no reflection and over self-
valuation utters 260,000 words of self-
adulation, I know a titmouse from a mule.
Consequently, in an oval room
a person babbling at focus point f1
is easily heard by a person
preening in a mirror at focus point f2.
These persons are the same person
yammering about himself.
This is nothing new under the sun.
If we could graph this debacle
the whole hullabaloo resembles
a boxy dragonfly, one wing steering leftward
the other straining far right tugging the
thoraxes to shreds just like that delicate
kite my father crafted from balsa
and newspapers loosely held by Elmer’s
glue and scotch tape, the same way
it split to ribbons facing its first
Wyoming gust in the untrained fists
of a five-year-old. Oh, the tantrum!
Where x and y,
where w and z
on the infinitely expanding asymptotes
represent dichotomous extremes
each symbolizes fear without qualification.
Where x champions Top Dog
shouting genius, prophet, chosen
where y satirizes the Satyr
x empathizes with Underdog
and y screams fact
and x screams fake.
In the hyperbolic hyperbola
arcing from x to w,
arcing from y to z
words heard wrongly, wrongly said
slippery words meaning something other
than their meaning, a joke, perhaps
not to the many cudgeled daily
by void adverbs, waiting . . .
waiting, waiting for one substantial
verb, for any signifier that means.
Props, his followers shout, for thinking
outside the linear box
as the graph takes on the angles and curves
of a four-horned goat’s polycerate con-
figuration, which is not as rare in nature
as you may think; it’s more common than truth
which is now endangered, nearly extinct
and the muddled axes of cause and effect
are anything but imaginary as they stretch
one end bemoaning unfair assignations
of hooves and tail and twitching ears
and one end crying in narcissistic outrage
by proxy how unfair to goats, one end decrying
endless negative and derogatory language
as they imagine Center of Interest supine, praying
in tongues to their ancient God for strength
and answers, claiming how, with no sleep
or pay this martyr transforms
to Atlas shouldering a world despised
because it so despises him.
How theoretically, parabola
can be used for deflection, radar, satellites
and concentrating the sun’s rays into hot spots
of brilliance and sanitized healing
with the precision of a head-on collision
that kills both drivers, if not for
regulatory rollbacks harming the vulnerable
like watching lightning bolts slither down
the extrados of a rainbow
and the vertex, that excluded and undecided
middle at the rise who might at any moment
slip either way,
decide for themselves.
If not for the steepening curve
and the only thing flattening here is the earth.
Shelly Norris currently resides in the woods of central Missouri with her husband John, two dogs, and seven cats. A Wyoming native, Norris began writing poetry around the age of 12. Norris’ poems embody the vicissitudes of unrequited love and loss, dysfunctional wounds, healing quests, and the role of cats in the universal scheme.
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