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Featured Guest Poet Rachel Dacus

The Luminosity of Prime

I love my new calculator's
spongy, square buttons, its readiness
to tick off tit for tat, the fluid
shepherding of integers into a corral.
I have counted by abacus,
scrawled in ledgers, pounded rattling
machines to vault digits
and perch those birds on fine wires.
Keeping books is like keeping snakes.
Certainty slithers away,
balance eludes, and answers
can never be written in permanent ink.
One late night, no column would add right.
Into my lamp's weak circle came
a white-haired woman. With glowing chalk
she scrawled on night's vacancy
the luminosity of prime
numbers. She chanted a rain
of indivisibles, pure though provisional
beings the tripod of Three, Five's
careening ox. Each dancing around
the numinous zero the way my little finger
haunts the equals key. Each suspended
a moment before, as a kayaker hears
downriver falls, shuts eyes and lifts the paddle,
falling into the utter sum.

October, 1999

Rachel Dacus's Questions:

Is the theme of the poem clear?

Is the poem grounded enough in tangible imagery?

Does it succeed in carrying its metaphysical theme without being confusing?

Rachel, I'll start from the title as I think if gives the key to the reading of your poem. Prime, here, is the state of highest strength or activity, a sort of "inner perfection" that gives, actually, luminosity to the speaker's " calculator". So, according to me, the first lines work through the metaphor. I had to pause a moment when you shift to books... Then I thought read them as book-keeping books, where figures and columns do not always come out right. If I read it correctly, I'd suggest to clarify this point. The apparition of the white-haired woman... She can represent wisdom, a certainty that comes from inside, the awareness you have to seek for the luminosity of prime not in figures or ink, but in the whole of the self, indivisible but by itself . You ask whether the poem is grounded in tangible imagery. I think so; I had to re-read the poem and go beyond the "realistic images" to reach the truth. Fascinating read, Rachel. As I said, the only lines I tripped on were the ones referring to books. And the metaphysic theme rights out, especially in the final section. Thank you for an excellent, though demanding read. Paula
Paula Grenside
Italy - Sat Oct 23 06:18:25 1999

A magnificent flow to this poem - from the hard keyboard, to the mystic. But it works, and works in with a perfect sense and logic. the best part, for me, was the series of transformations -keyboard, snake, woman - wonderful and enjoyable. bravo and thanks.
Kenn Mitchell
USA - Sun Oct 24 15:06:54 1999
This is an interesting piece. It has excellent flow.
Eric Campbell
USA - Sat Nov 20 14:05:59 1999

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