Poetry Contest Winner, Honorable Mention, Fall Winter 2021

Zebulon Huset

The Mathematics Are Indisputable

            -from the diary of a 15 year old genius suicide who weighed the values
             of life vs. death for months before deciding upon the latter.

The diaries kept close to family and police,
as one would want with their own diaries,
it is difficult to check his math, but, knowing
his fine academic and artistic (violin, piano)
record, we can at least believe that he believed.

The regular customer who hated everyone
but me, because I got her English Muffin perfect,
asked me to sit one slow afternoon and explained her
debilitating jaw disorder, the recurrent surgery
and magnifying pain. Her kids who have made it
many years without calling, despite living within miles.
I tickled coffee pot and reproduced my oft-said
motivational poster about the joys unexperienced
and furthering good. She said that any promise of good
couldn't outweigh the pain. She wished someone
would just end it. How to reply? Refill coffee.
Awkward retreat to the safety of another order.

Bills are incredible. Their mathematics are
like magic after months of working til sleep.
The scales of the x/y blur with exhaustion.
But I've played enough video, board, and role-
playing games to remember that coins are imaginary.
There is a reset button, new characters, pieces.
To a point. When the game has returned to the box
the game is over. Quit paying rent and the sheriff
won't be banging down your door for months—
especially if you're loquacious—and the money
you can save in those months of living on potatoes
and stolen food at work will last decades
in a Chilean mountain village as long as you're willing
to plant and pick and cook most of your food.
The sunsets from that Andes platform. The dew
on plants not even featured in picture books.
Those waves lulled me to sleep many troubled nights.

However—I can't question the unseen maths.
I have not felt my jaw work itself out of socket
without anyone to pick me up, sedated, from the ER.
The long blurry wait for an over-priced taxicab.
I know only my own experience and they say that
the human brain has no capacity for remembering pain
beyond the experience. So we find metaphors, put it
in numbers, try to remove ourselves from the equation.