Systematics and other Poems- Gary Glauber


When the candy dish
fills with ones and zeros,
binary lovers bind
into one shadow, 
together for an eternity
of whispered calculation. 

Then man-made problems
beset men and we act surprised,
rising only to ride unruly wiles.
While clock becomes stopwatch,
secondhand second hands
move punctually ahead,
applauding this march 
of used time. 

With Swiss precision, 
they read our minds,
feel our apprehensive 
our distant history,
chasing anniversaries.

This is the room 
where time stopped that night,
tired of weary journey,
swept up in nonchalance
that follows painstaking care
gone ballistic, unwound.

Seized. Transformed. 
Head on pillow, dreaming. 

Boundaries are busted
into disparate voids
as desperate illusion fades.
Populous chant begins
as if shiny and new,
all Euclid’s elements 
plainly on view.


Each night the night loses.
Orange fireball rising east,
smug in pallid victory
marching across sky, 
ghostly moon witness 
to quiet capitulation. 
New light’s hunger  
for renewed chances
ravenous as waffle house special,
eating to forget 
dreams already forgotten,
dissipating into distance,
sentiment hard as sediment
steeling self against 
timeworn expectation
to have the best day.


Remember these words, these images,
these chaotic string theory times.  
Once disobedience called itself civil,
and even dissent involved a certain decorum.
Now anger is scattershot, a spray
of bullets lacking scope or focus,
and even Catullus would have been appalled.
Chasms widen daily, fueled by rumbles
of petty vindictive indifference, a poison
disbursed at will by cornered breed 
of heartless elite, pride without compassion,
touting accomplishments unachieved,
running wild and untethered at 6 and 11. 
Not even promise of compromise
is kept, and progress undone trips up 
players entangled in their own promotion.  
Show me alleged brick road, lion.
Instead I see yellow gulfs, 
runnels of divisive vitriol 
pooling in corners of captured video, 
bandaids for contusions
to sound bite the hand that feeds 
the illusion. Count backwards
from twenty and rest assured,
reflexes still work. Somehow
on a scale of hope and determination,
all is fine, couldn’t be better.  

Song of the Whale Shark

Sometimes you tell me
how you want to be 
a big fish in a small pond,
and I suppose I understand
where you’re coming from. 
You’re not big,
so you quickly think
that might be an easy solution.
I try to be empathetic
to your plight.  
But size isn’t everything, you see.
I know. 
The largest fish in the sea
is me. Endangered, but
not necessarily endearing.

I have size and heft.
When traveling in my school,
I am roughly the size 
of a school bus.
I tip the scales 
at over 20 tons.
Not exactly dainty,
I come in peace.
Docile as the day is long.
Because – why not? 
My seventy years need not
be full of fighting.
No vicious vengeance
against some 
passionately obsessed
peglegged Captain Ahab. 
Give me my plankton
and I’ll move right by. 

People assume because
I swim with mouth wide open
(colossally gaping)
that I have a lot to say. 
It’s just my filtration system,
a way of feeding my hunger.
Sure, I am seeking out 
the luxe life of warmer waters,
but aren’t we all? 

So being a big fish in a big pond
does not necessarily help me
to stand out in any way. 
From the deep dark 
bottom of Mariana’s Trench,
to continental shelf
of West Australia, 
no one sees beyond 
my size; 
no one bothers
to look behind 
what’s in my eyes.

Yet if swimmers want to hitch a ride
on my ginormous striped hide, I say
jump on. The more the merrier.
Because large can be lonely.
And really, I’m happy to lend a fin
whenever I can.

Bully Pulpit

You don’t know from bullying.
Back in the day, bullying 
had class, elan and flair,
a certain je ne sais quois.
It wasn’t about shaming; 
it was about instincts and fear.
Sure, there was the sinking 
subjugation to obeisance,
but that’s a beginner’s 
rite of passage.
Shortly after came a sense 
of true reckless abandon,
unpredictability raised to art.
This was shared experience,
a tale of sheer athleticism gone wild,
a house on fire, uncontrolled energy 
turned incendiary.
We’d all stare into the blaze,
unable to look away. 
He would do one-handed pushups 
in the middle of the one road
leading to the school. 
Any cars inconvenienced would
have to wait. Those impatient few
who honked or yelled
learned the hard way.
Ripped from their cars 
and beaten – just because.
He parlayed that fear 
into respect – for the legend he became.
It was nothing personal for him:
other people existed to be bullied.
He was just doing his
version of missionary work. 
The stories grew more outlandish 
with every retelling, 
yet he never denied any detail.
It was leverage, leeway. 
Hallway crowds parted 
like Red Sea – giving him
direct access to the gym
where he could be seen at any hour
practicing his outside jumper,
or hitting the weight room
after football practice
to defy credible odds. 
He was a dynamic force,
in spite of his relative size,
standing no more than 5’8.”
Yet he went both ways on the field of play,
was named MVP in this very large city.  
He went all out – willing to sacrifice
his hard body for a tackle 
or to gain extra yards running
between defenders. 
In an odd way,
he bullied them too, 
adhering to the impossible
dictum of giving at least 110%. 
Life was one bad clichéd pep talk
after another, being reminded how
a liability on the field
would be an asset on the bench.
But he never had to worry.
He was revered, the friendliest
of bullies, a smiling agile wunderkind,
the fierce powerful best. 

Today we learned of his passing
at a relatively young age. 
If he spent the rest of his life
with that same effusive
bullying passion, it came
as no surprise. It’s a fact:
firecrackers explode,
along with memories
of the bully we once spoke of 
in tones of hushed pride,
back when one phenomenal athlete
changed the rules of the game.  

Find Gary Glauber on Amazon

About the contributor

Gary Glauber is a widely published poet, fiction writer, teacher, and former music journalist. He champions the underdog alongside melodic rhythms of obscure power pop. His two collections, Small Consolations (Aldrich Press) and Worth the Candle (Five Oaks Press), and a chapbook, Memory Marries Desire (Finishing Line Press), are available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and directly from the publishers. He is hard at work on his next collection.

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