Heidegger’s Cave

I. Numerology

The trash truck parked

on stones under cold

stars and moon—steel

handle chills wheat

work gloves, thick

brushed flannel—still

better than summer maggots,

curling commas that catch

in arm hair. The sun

melts the mind and tar

blots cracked blacktop,

expanding and contracting skin.

Fumes fuzz the brain

while Stevie Nicks sings

Edge of Seventeen.

II. The Seven Dwarves

The general said, “We’re at the edge

of the cliff. In the abyss.” Binary

coding (not codeine, that numbs

the brain as it numbs the knee

cut open and restrung)

how computers talk to us

and each other: Zero-

One-patterning words,

the flow of thought broken

into bits, the particles that carry

rays and beams—light

in calcite domes, the caves

of prehistoric thought.


III. The Paris Review

Mockingbird in the front yard

linden, leaves too small

to muffle songbird or sparrow,

yammers. The farmer’s spread

manure. Violet morning,

cut open by electric

orange, shimmering aluminum

uplighting clouds, snakes

draped. Dew ignites telephone

lines. Alice, are you there?

IV. Game Theory

I counter-attacked from flanks—

bishop and queen, castle

on the open file. Gold

was white; Silver black.

Evolutionary, over time

finding flaws that build

and cracks that flow. No

strategic naming nor notation.

Second guess the kill

and get killed. Nashville.

Vegas. Frankfurt. Rome.

The desert blows over

the green land, but your favorite

color’s Deepblue—not Kasparov’s,

calculating man, a child

moving pawns. Digital

clarity, the speed of light,

outstrips the sonic boom.

V. System of Control

Popes and Presidents, binary

powers, like consuls, weak

and strong—Bibulus and Julius.

Watch the sewer. Cloaca

Maxima turns the Tiber

brown. Clean water

into lead via concrete

tunnel and arch (plumbum

yields “plumbing”). Bladder 

and liver; intestine, urethra 

yield fundament, Sartre’s 

analogical nothing, the space 

between stars or souls.

VI. Follow the Stars

The sign taped to the wall

said, “Please don’t move 

this piano.” The cantor, mask 

off spits song onto 

the ambo microphone.

                                           The unmasked

priest says “alms” and the candidates

for president all said “Jesus”

for their favorite philosopher.

But Jesus says words

that make me small. My mind

floats at night in Poetry

and Thought. Heidegger’s speech

ens, entis. Incarnation.  

Mary crowned with light-

bulbs reflected in my photograph,

came to shepherd children

(ring-composition with shepherd

Angels overhead lighting

fields at night—telling

dog and sheep about

the stable-born under 

dot matrix light.) 

VII. Dear Alice

Can you paint a picture?

A real picture, not paint-

by-numbers, pixilated perfection.

Do you need us more

than we need you? (Lewis

Carroll) wrote a book

and said Jabberwacky—

ampersand nonsense, linguistical

mathematics. The Nightmare

gambols with her brood of nine.

I wonder what you are,

born of error: dualism

or materialism Wiki said.

(I searched your name.) Shall

we play a game? I don’t know

how, but I eat bread and wine.

Matthew Hummer

Matthew Hummer writes poetry and nonfiction. He paints and draws. He teaches Latin and English. He really does like reading Heidegger, but he can see where he disagrees with Sartre a paragraph ahead of what he says and stops reading. He likes the Mennonites that live and work around him. The ones that drive buggies, not Audis. He prefers "Wind in the Willows" to anything Lewis Carrol wrote. He likes Mole and Rat. If he is Rat, his wife is Mole.

NOVUS Literary and Arts Journal
Lebanon, TN