Poetry & Prose

New Laws Regarding the Conversion of Matter and Energy

1st Law 

Says, we live in a closed system. 

Says, if that bear 

and her three cubs 

don’t eat us, 

some other couple out for a vacation hike 

will be meat, dead meat, 

never to reach the top of the Diamond Mountain. 

The bear feints, false-charges, two strides; 

cubs black-blurring into the undergrowth 

The first law says, if I tell you to run, 

and then charge the bear with my bare teeth, 

bite through her thick, sun-platinumed fur, 

I will become the bear. 

And the bear will become me. 

And if you say you love me, 

then what I’m feeling must be love too. 

Remember to breathe while you run, 

my love. 

Watch the clouds you create as you exhale: 

the eternal hesitation. 


2nd Law 

Says, the fish stays in the river 

until I pry him 

gripping and slipping 

into the light. 

The fish is not afraid 

of my clumsy-razored-train-wreck claws, 

my insensitive eyes. 

It says that if I sit 

waist deep 

just before the falls 

and eat only the fat and eggs, 

ripping them free with a shake of my head, 

gurgling the rainbow oil, 

and letting the bodies drift 


for the cubs to finish off, 

I will tap into the amaranthine 

collective memory of the river. 

3rd Law 

Begins with the fact 

that when something goes in hot 

it stays hot. 


when something goes in cold 

it stays cold; 

a car door slams louder in February 

than it does in May. 

It ends with a warning: Change 

is impossible. I’m inside 

the car; the bear 

I could be is impossible; 

keep arms and legs inside 

at all times; grimace through cramping muscles; 

cross fingers and breathe deeply for relaxation; 

it will only hurt until numbness is reached: 

it will only hurt after the second time around. 


4th Law 

Has to do with a death scream, 

a klaxon clanging, 

a hammer and a firing pin. 

It has something to do 

with the funeral procession, 

in the mist, between slumping mills; 

a black bear feeling the bite 

of a perfectly located blue bug. 

But it also has something to do with disillusionment. 

The man who once wore the clown suit 

is really just a man. 

The man once in the ice cube 

is just a man too; 

it’s just that 

somewhere along the way 

he lost his ability to feel, 

to empathize, and wrapped himself in a bearskin. 

And now 

must wait for a very warm day, 

for the clouds to blow off the summit, 

a sun’s ray to save him.

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