Allen Fischer



A Frog in Theory
                  “Thou must harbor chaos
                    to give birth to a dancing star.”
                                      - Nietzche

Quantum mechanics may mean well;
a kiss in time and things will change.
The frog becomes a prince,
the turtle a mandarin, and suddenly
from touch small tyrannies break loose.
What masterstroke next?
Words are immaterial, inflict no fire;
so you wait for a little magic: an omen, colors
in discovery of shape, maybe a frog fleshed from stone.
But you‘re struck with the way things are.
The heat of the moment flares and little more.
From the moon, sunlight flaks a tone-deaf yell.
A death in the family comes and goes;
the heart’s lie detector clocks a nervous tic.
Have you checked the phone for messages?
Did you pick up your medication, pay the rent?
One thing leads to another, yet goes nowhere.
In dream’s mirror, surface to air mimics Jacobs Ladder
and all the king’s men rise like ducks in a row,
each with an agenda, each a different idea of
how to make you fit in. Force the issue, they urge.
No need to turn back. Rethink. Remodel. Try
some alchemy or pound the living daylights out
and go dark. Now listen. Listen to the prince croak.


              Ici, On Parle
          Who Knows What


The window gives into gray and the gray to
a dull shuttle of sneak thieves and frauds.
Some mornings equivocate that way.
Words clog the mouth like cotton,
choke garble into the mind’s spittoon.
An idle Das Lied von der Erde weighs on the body,
its melody loath as used oil.
From time to time, between slow breaths,
cock-a-doodle-do spurts from the cracks.
A buck hones its instinct and moves on.
There is a leak in the solar system,
a foreign light of exposed feelings.
What they’re talking about in the next room,
I do not know. Maybe the incoherence is mine.
I’ve been known to see clandestine danger
and glot in the dark. I’ve been to Paris
and Berlin on a threadbare, dreamt my way
to Pigalle and back down Kurfuerstendamm,
only to wake dry mouthed in Brooklyn,
unsure of where I was or why.
Here, half awake, people speak sparrow,
a squeaky chatter of rusty birdcage
and desert twigs. A nest long vacated.
In the window is a message, if only I could read it.
A clown laughs, flies off, my name in its beak.


City of Windows

If you focus, eyes fixed on inner space,
you might see how a city can take itself in
and its windows expose the streets.
How each prodigal tower stalks the wind,
dreams an open season on secrets.
Isn't this why every room of every
story is called a hope chest?
Within their keeps of glass
stare a thousand desires of desires,
each one unlikely as a lottery ticket.
To you, hope may levitate like a magic carpet;
to someone else, it unrolls into a prayer rug.
Perhaps this is what belief is all about:
how to exceed the grasp of conjecture
and get beyond logic's manicure.

The city compiles people,
vexes them to curiosity
like eyes in a spare parts bank,
stores their dreams in a seclusion
of blueprints, notions and visions that may never
make it out of the mind's cutting room.
With little experience to fall back on,
little is said - mostly scuttlebutt,
tabloid imitations, sound-bites of news.
Supplicants peer into their neighbors' lives
as though each window were a television,
and the crowds hurrying the streets
were extras staking out a silent film. No promises
whispered here. No resolve wanted.
Only the distance that comes with fantasy.

An old woman in a sixth-floor walkup
sits at her window, looks out forever, prayer
beads in hand just in case. Across the street,
a crane defies gravity, assembles the latest in monitors,
a fifty story tower, the city at its feet.
How much for a piece of the action -
for a 20-power scope, for the nooners
in the 32nd floor apartment a block away?
What price an imported life, its censored scenes?
We look behind closed doors, demystify the distance.
Dr. Mirabilis makes a few house calls and
discovers people who live in glass ideas:
green is hope, yellow is jealousy, red is anger,
blue is tension, rose innocence. Belief wears
like an old map, misleading and out of date.

Out of hand, out of reach, moody
figures float around their apartments
like deep-water fish in a municipal aquarium.
Inside reconnoiters with outside - which is which?
What if the construct doesn't work?
Failure of purpose answers. Down comes
your side of the story, down falls its
icon of light, the understudy concealed
in your briefcase. Arguments break out
in a diffusion of floors, office and home: what we say,
what we see. Windows go blank, even your reflection
fails. What fills the void? Does the soul know?
No more than a doorman, locksmith or your
neighbor across the way, no closer than a secret
fluttering like two pigeons in search of food.


About the Author

Formerly director of marketing for a nationwide corporation, Fischer brings a business background to poetry. His poems have been published widely, including the Indiana Review, The Literary Review, Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, Rattle, Seneca Review; internationally in Poetry Wales and in European Judiasm; and locally in Blueline, Heliotrope and several Word Thursdays anthologies, such as Out of the Catskills and Just Beyond. He and his wife divide their time between Saugerties, where they have lived since 1993, Brooklyn, and Hamburg, Germany.

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