Saturday, August 17, 2013

Night at the Improv, C. 1600

Horrible! retorted Johannes Kepler
to the self-imposed question of how
his mentor, Danish astronomer
Tycho Brahe–whose nose, lost
in a duel, was replaced by a silver
& gold monstrosity–smelled. Goblets
raised, the old guard roared
at Kepler fanning his wry
face for emphasis, feeling
his audience, intelligence thinned
by the Inquisition, might
need a visual aid to
get it. After all, save for a few
snickers, his elliptical orbit
bit flew over their waxed &
wigged heads. Enter Galileo
Galilei onto the stage with vaudevillian
                        aplomb & sly
sight gag revolving around his truly
inspired take on the spyglass,
to wit, his telescope–wink, nudge–
a risibly phallic, ultra outre
gizmo that made the universe,
in its mysterious splendor, little
more than a peep show
for the uptight, meat
pie & mutton crowd, lusting
after a forbidden glimpse
of the celestial
fan dance of Jupiter & her
moons, in details far
above & beyond those accorded
the naked eye. Who or what
could follow an act that exposed
the cosmos, that allowed all
who dared to gape at the infinite
heavenly bodies in motion?
On this night, the pure white light
shone upon a relatively unknown
Dominican friar, Giordano
Bruno, whose regrettable
shtik of what if
a plurality of worlds existed
echoed in dumbness
underscored by fitful howls
of heresy. Tough crowd,
quipped Bruno, nervously
mopping his brow, sweating as if
staked to a fire.


Note:  This poem first appeared in Segue (Spring '07).  You can also find "Night at the Improv, C. 1600" in my chapbooks Here's How & Greatest Hits.  Be sure to collect them all!