Month: August 2023

subject vehiclesubject vehicle

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:04 pm

subject vehicle southbound on interstate twenty-five at
or about the hour of three thirty-six a.m. was brought

to impact against the left retaining wall subject vehicle
immediately ricocheting off wall crossing interstate

at a contrary vector relative to the sparse traffic
at that hour made its way across the low guardrail along

right edge of interstate sliding at a high rate of speed down
the embankment and onto the exit ramp where it impacted

the ramp’s right guardrail with force sufficient to snap one thick wooden
supporting post in two uprooting the major segment with

a loud concrete-and-metal crunching grinding noise the sound and
vibration of which were sufficient to wake several persons

sleeping in the houses immediately to the west of
exit ramp subject vehicle twisted and crushed rested against
damaged right guardrail of exit ramp when a passing motorist
pulled over and stopped and called for help on his cell phone a second

passing motorist pulled over and stopped and approached subject
vehicle peering inside shrinking back turning covering her mouth

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

swamp coolerswamp cooler

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:16 am

probably blow low-vent all night, rain-smell coming in.
no need for pumping water pump, little motor whirring,
always seeming on the verge of breakdown.

cat hiding under the car in the drive,
waiting for the slim possibility of a second supper.
no hunting sparrows or mice in this weather.

hummingbirds braving the spattering rain,
sipping from birds of paradise before sunset.

boys with basketballs under their arms,
standing at windows, watching the clouds.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:15 am

“Suppose that the true laws of motion of atoms were given by some strange equation which does not have the property that when we go to a larger scale we reproduce the same law, but instead has the property that if we go to a larger scale, we can approximate it by a certain expression such that, if we extend that expression up and up, it keeps reproducing itself on a larger and larger scale. That is possible, and in fact that is the way it works. Newton’s laws are the ‘tail end’ of the atomic laws, extrapolated to a very large size. The actual laws of motion of particles on a fine scale are very peculiar, but if we take large numbers of them and compound them, they approximate, but only approximate, Newton’s laws. Newton’s laws then permit us to go on to a higher and higher scale, and it still seems to be the same law. In fact, it becomes more and more accurate as the scale gets larger and larger. This self-reproducing factor of Newton’s laws is thus really not a fundamental feature of nature, but is an important historical feature. We would never discover the fundamental laws of the atomic particles at first observation because the first observations are much too crude. In fact, it turns out that the fundamental atomic laws, which we call quantum mechanics, are quite different from Newton’s laws, and are difficult to understand because all our direct experiences are with large-scale objects and the small-scale atoms behave like nothing we see on a large scale. So we cannot say, ‘An atom is just like a planet going around the sun,’ or anything like that. It is like nothing we are familiar with because there is nothing like it. As we apply quantum mechanics to larger and larger things, the laws about the behavior of many atoms together do not reproduce themselves, but produce new laws, which are Newton’s laws, which then continue to reproduce themselves from, say, micro-microgram size, which still is billions and billions of atoms, on up to the size of the earth, and above.” – Richard P. Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. I (emphases in original)

miss americamiss america

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:23 pm

miss america got a gun, a thirty-eight special, and she knows how to use it.

miss america shot out the tires on the burglar’s car. she held on to her walker
and pulled out her pistol.

she is old now. when she was young and miss america,
her image was painted on the nose of a flying fortress.

she leaned on her walker, shot out the tires and told the crook,
one step closer and you’re a dead man.

she is miss america.
her image was painted on the nose of a flying fortress.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

lucifer’s lamentlucifer’s lament

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:08 am

jesus loves me, this i know,
for my teevee tells me so.
he is always watching me,
his older brother, suave and free.

jesus loves me, every day,
no matter what i do or say.
i can pull the wings off flies
or spread the pretty schoolgirl’s thighs.

jesus, love me, pretty please,
it’s not fair for you to tease
your older brother in this way—
be a sport; what do you say?

jesus, don’t you love me so?
if you don’t, where can i go
to flee the angel i’ve become
and hades’ low, incessant hum?

jesus, please, don’t leave me now.
i’ll swear to any kind of vow
to keep you in my rightful place,
gazing on your holy face.

damn it, jesus, turn around!
don’t turn your back—you’re all i’ve found
who would forgive me what i do—

jesus loved me—this i knew.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:06 am

“On Monday morning, as an offset to our day’s sport, we were all set to work ‘tarring down’ the rigging. Some got girt-lines up for riding down the stays and back-stays, and others tarred the shrouds, lifts, etc., laying out on the yards, and coming down the rigging. We overhauled our bags and took out our old tarry trowsers and frocks, which we had used when we tarred down before, and were all at work in the rigging by sunrise. After breakfast, we had the satisfaction of seeing the Italian ship’s boat go ashore, filled with men, gaily dressed, as on the day before, and singing their barcarollas. The Easter holydays are kept up on shore during three days; and being a Catholic vessel, the crew had the advantage of them. For two successive days, while perched up in the rigging, covered with tar and engaged in our disagreeable work, we saw these fellows going ashore in the morning, and coming off again at night, in high spirits. So much for being Protestants. There’s no danger of Catholicism’s spreading in New England; Yankees can’t afford the time to be Catholics. American shipmasters get nearly three weeks more labor out of their crews, in the course of a year, than the masters of vessels from Catholic countries. Yankees don’t keep Christmas, and ship-masters at sea never know when Thanksgiving comes, so Jack has no festival at all.” – Richard Henry Dana, Two Years Before the Mast

genesis 0:0genesis 0:0

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:59 am

my god! the lesser angels in assembly cried,
there has been a creation error! the scheme has not been found!
entry is required but access is denied!
the block is too large! the labels will not fit!

what about the handles? responded god.

there are no available handles,
moaned the angels of middle management.
there is no room—not enough memory—
the path is not found, and the internal error cannot be modified.

fix it, responded god.

oh god, the angels bawled,
the display is invalid and we cannot find the command,
we cannot find the correct copy, we cannot find the virtual objects—
and the clipboard data is not correct!

from the corners of chaos there came angelic shouts—
driver warning!
illegal characters!
maximum exceeded!
divide overflow!
non-unique forms found!

cancel, directed god, and exit without saving.

generation terminated! one angel called, relief in his sweet voice.

god looked upon his host of angels.
we’ll get it right next time, or there will be some fatal errors up here.
where’s lucifer? find him and tell him
i want to see him in my office, right away!

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:52 am

“Space of itself, and time of itself will sink into mere shadows, and only a kind of union between them shall survive.” – Hermann Minkowski (quoted by Richard P. Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. I)


Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:10 pm

fungus ain’t a critter take no for an answer.
fungus ain’t gonna get up and go
just because you say go.

black mold on the rug, black mold in the carpet pile,
white mold growing on the underside of the bed,
boudoir smelling of the mushroom patch.

bleach, ammonia, soap—so what?
fungus the critter own the original deed,
ink indelible, parchment unburnable.

burn down the house? and all the goods inside?
fungus be a spore, float away on the smoke,
go live someplace else.
be waitin there when you arrive.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)


Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:32 am

look at all this food!

on top of the fridge, i’ve got
a bag of corn chips, a can of peanuts
(roasted & salted), and a box of crackers.

inside of the fridge, i’ve got
bananas, berries (blue, straw, and rasp),
corn still on the ears (three!),
a loaf of whole-wheat bread,
an entire pound of pure cheese,
and a gallon (!) of low-fat milk,
(fortified with vitamins).

it will be days, maybe even a week,
before i’m hungry again.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:31 am

“Do not laugh at notations; invent them, they are powerful. In fact, mathematics is, to a large extent, invention of better notations.” – Richard P. Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. I


Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:31 pm

blue slowly overcomes the gray, the morning birds sounding
songs from branches camouflaged by leaves emerging
out of night’s sharp darkness into view as green and lustrous, moving
lightly in dawn’s cool breeze. the cyclist speeds through intersections,
ignoring stop signs and watching out for early motorists doing the same.
the air smells in pockets of lilac, tobacco, coffee and bacon.
booted cats are crossing streets, heading home for breakfast.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

all that there isall that there is

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:53 am

the universe
the whole shebang
the this, the that, & the other thing
the quarks, the clusters of galaxies
the songbirds descended from t. rex
the people descended from god knows where
the rocks sufficient as ever unto themselves
the vascular plants, the molds and fungi
the black holes, the white dwarves
the dark matter & the centers of stars
that which transcends all that a monkey could know
& that which substantiates the dance of the atomic apparitions

an incredible act of courage & joy
that there should be anything at all
& more than that, all that there is

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:51 am

“What we mean by ‘right now’ is a mysterious thing which we cannot define and we cannot affect, but it can affect us later, or we could have affected it if we had done something far enough in the past. When we look at the star Alpha Centauri, we see it as it was four years ago; we might wonder what it is like ‘now.’ ‘Now’ means at the same time from our special coordinate system. We can only see Alpha Centauri by the light that has come from our past, up to four years ago, but we do not know what it is doing ‘now’; it will take four years before what it is doing ‘now’ can affect us. Alpha Centauri ‘now’ is an idea or concept of our mind; it is not something that is really definable physically at the moment, because we have to wait to observe it; we cannot even define it right ‘now.’ Furthermore, the ‘now’ depends on the coordinate system. If, for example, Alpha Centauri were moving, an observer there would not agree with us because he would put his axes at an angle, and his ‘now’ would be a different time.” – Richard P. Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. I (emphasis in original)


Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:08 pm

i chose to tell you a story you could understand
you were children, barely awake

i knew if i told you fifteen billion years
you’d never believe me
and a number that big would be meaningless to you
you were just learning to count up to twenty

so i told you it took me a week
children’s stories for children

later i told you the story of how i was my own son and could die for you
and how there were some useful things you could learn if you thought about this
even took it to heart

more a story for adolescents than for children
a riddle to challenge growing minds

now you’ve come all this way—lately you’ve grown so fast!—
so let me tell you another story
you can’t have nothing unless you have something
and if you have anything you have to have everything

as for the rest of it, you’re on your own

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

one cat sleepsone cat sleeps

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:07 am

house’s air laden
with fragrance of cooking bacon

two cats sleep cat-sleep on wall-to-wall carpet

siva dances on her infant in the kitchen
cracks eggs
stirs batter
slices peppers
squeezes oranges into juice

krishna marvels
stringing cobra heads into a garland

one cat wakes
one cat sleeps

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

listening mondaylistening monday

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 4:57 pm

okay, where are you? really?
that’s tee rider’s house. that’s funny.
i’m printing. you’re fine. there’s a
terrific echo in here.

music plays in the distance.
a woman laughs. glasses clink.
footfalls. some colognes, when mixed
with sweat, smell of insecticide.

there’s one right over here. a
door closes down a hallway.
voices murmur. the music
plays. he was working with a
whistling man. how’s everybody’s
monday in here? well, it’s monday.
that’s what i like to hear. the
music swells to a crescendo
of horns and drums. cymbals. a
woman, not the laugher, walks
away. thank you. that’s nice. thank
you. a man coughs. a man laughs.

a woman clears her throat. the
echo in here is immense.
sounds reflect from the echoes
of their echoes. thank you. thank you.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:06 am

“Poincaré made the following statement of the principle of relativity: ‘According to the principle of relativity, the laws of physical phenomena must be the same for a fixed observer as for an observer who has a uniform motion of translation relative to him, so that we have not, nor can we possibly have, any means of discerning whether or not we are carried along in such a motion.’ When this idea descended upon the world, it caused a great stir among philosophers, particularly the ‘cocktail-party philosophers,’ who say, ‘Oh, it is very simple: Einstein’s theory says all is relative!’ In fact, a surprisingly large number of philosophers, not only those found at cocktail parties (but rather than embarrass them, we shall just call them ‘cocktail-party philosophers’), will say, ‘That all is relative is a consequence of Einstein, and it has profound influences on our ideas.’ In addition, they say ‘It has been demonstrated in physics that phenomena depend upon your frame of reference.’ We hear that a great deal, but it is difficult to find out what it means. Probably the frames of reference that were originally referred to were the coordinate systems which we use in the analysis of the theory of relativity. So the fact that ‘things depend upon your frame of reference’ is supposed to have had a profound effect on modern thought. One might well wonder why, because, after all, that things depend upon one’s point of view is so simple an idea that it certainly cannot have been necessary to go to all the trouble of the physical relativity theory in order to discover it. That what one sees depends upon his frame of reference is certainly known to anybody who walks around, because he sees an approaching pedestrian first from the front and then from the back; there is nothing deeper in most of the philosophy which is said to have come from the theory of relativity than the remark that ‘A person looks different from the front than from the back.’ The old story about the elephant that several blind men describe in different ways is another example, perhaps, of the theory of relativity from the philosopher’s point of view. But certainly there must be deeper things in the theory of relativity than just this simple remark that ‘A person looks different from the front than from the back.’ Of course relativity is deeper than this, because we can make definite predictions with it. It certainly would be rather remarkable if we could predict the behavior of nature from such a simple observation alone.” – Richard P. Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. I (emphasis in original)


Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:09 pm

the man takes the broom out to the back porch
sweeps off autumn’s fallen leaves

the cat rubs against the man’s leg
sees the broom
scampers off

the man sweeps

the cat sits in the yard
watches the man

the cat’s tail swishes
this way
that way
fallen leaves rustle

the cat’s tail swishes
this way, that way
rustling fallen leaves
in the yard

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

night sounds, summernight sounds, summer

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:12 am

distant whistle of the midnight freight
pulling into the rail yards downtown

burring rumbled whirr of freeway traffic
passing endlessly behind my house

murmuring voices of next-door neighbors
home from the show and not yet drunk

muffled clink of the spoon against
the bottom of my ice cream bowl

a cough from somewhere outside

a cricket from somewhere inside

the ticking clock on the bookshelf

(Published in High Street: Lawyers, Guns & Money in a Stoner’s New Mexico (2012, Outpost 19); copyright 2012, 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:11 am

“The American, even in the early eighteenth century, already showed many of the characteristics that were to set him off from the Englishman later on—his bold and somewhat grotesque imagination, his contempt for authority, his lack of aesthetic sensitiveness, his extravagant humor. Among the first colonists there were many men of education, culture and gentle birth, but they were soon swamped by hordes of the ignorant and illiterate, and the latter, cut off from the corrective influence of books, soon laid their hands upon the language. It is impossible to imagine the austere Puritan divines of Massachusetts inventing such verbs as to cowhide and to logroll, or such adjectives as no-account and stumped, or such adverbs as no-how and lickety-split, or such substantives as bull-frog, hog-wallow and hoe-cake; but under their eyes there arose a contumacious proletariat which was quite capable of the business, and very eager for it. In Boston, so early as 1628, there was a definite class of blackguard roisterers, chiefly made up of sailors and artisans; in Virginia, nearly a decade earlier, John Pory, secretary to Governor Yeardley, lamented that “in these five moneths of my continuance here there have come at one time or another eleven sails of ships into this river, but fraighted more with ignorance than with any other marchansize.” In particular, the generation born in the New World was uncouth and iconoclastic; the only world it knew was a rough world, and the virtues that environment engendered were not those of niceness, but those of enterprise and resourcefulness.” – H.L. Mencken, The American Language (emphases and spellings in original)


Tetman Callis 0 Comments 4:42 pm

we dug holes in the cold dirt, scooping small caves for our small superheroes
who rested there after battles with their slightly-larger adversaries.
the dirt was sandy, packed after infrequent rains, but crumbly,
powdery, and laced dun-red with iron oxides. the caves could easily collapse.

we played there every day, marking our caves with tumbleweed twigs or with pebbles,
or with the memory of a pattern of stones in the back wall—
or for my newest cave, almost the best, by stuffing it full with my wadded-up
brilliant red superman cape, surviving item of that year’s trick-or-treat.
a corner of the cape i left poking through an air-hole in the roof of the fragile superhero’s hide-out. my best friend, digging his cave beside mine,
said it was about time i finally took that stupid cape off.

the next day my cape was gone, my cave destroyed. my best friend’s cave
had been badly damaged. it looked as though godzilla had passed rampaging through.
the authorities took our report, but said there was really nothing they could do.
we felt the feelings of betrayal one will feel when fantasy battles with reality
and reality wins. a few minutes later we went to play ball.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)


Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:43 am

this morning, pre-sunrise, down the paved bike trail along the river,
by the sewage treatment plant, i pumped in seventh gear through a stretch
populated with countless gnats in hovering clouds. it was still too dark
to see them well, but they peppered my arms and face, ticked against
my biking helmet as i rode through their domain, my head down, eyes squinting
to keep them out, mouth barely open and my breathing shallow to keep them
out of my throat or god forbid my lungs.

a flycatcher i passed sprung from its fencepost perch and fluttered along the trail
in front of me, swimming through the air in a meander confounding to any euclidean,
the flycatcher snatching gnats from the air, breakfast served the old-fashioned way.

flycatcher, be there again tomorrow morning, in the dawn.
i shall be there also, inshallah.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:42 am

“If there is anything that irritates sailors and makes them feel hardly used, it is being deprived of their Sabbath. Not that they would always, or indeed generally, spend it religiously, but it is their only day of rest.” – Richard Henry Dana, Two Years Before the Mast

kathy at the funhousekathy at the funhouse

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 4:53 pm

at an arcade, a sort of funhouse place, large, cavernous, dark,
there was an empty seat beside you. we were all of us players
of the funhouse video games to sit and wait in these seats
while the games were explained, then we would be allowed to play.

i sat beside you. you told me your name was kathy, but i knew this.
we first met when you were sixteen and i was seventeen.
you were still sixteen, but i was as i am now, except i was still married.
the funhouse had distorting mirrors. they all do.

it was a boy’s night out for me. i had wandered for the first time
into this funhouse. we sat and listened to the long instructions
as to how to play and win the games, but i didn’t care to win,
nor even much to play. i was there looking for what everybody
looks for but never can give a name to. you were spunky and flirtatious,
told me how good you were at the games, told me, you’ll see.

it was time to play. we got on our knees, as instructed, before
the video games. i didn’t know how to play mine, didn’t much care.
it was something to do with spaceships shooting other spaceships.

you finished yours before i finished mine. it turned out you hadn’t
done so well after all, but it was time for you to leave.
there was a man there, smiling and friendly and, if not young,
he was younger than i am now. i thought he was your boyfriend,
and i was disappointed until you told me you wanted to see me again
and asked me for my number. he remained smiling.
he may have been your father.

it was late. the funhouse was closing. we all had to leave.
i pulled out my wallet and fumbled for a card, finally finding one of my own.
i gave it to you and told you to call me at my office, not telling you
not to call me at home due to the wife. (but kathy, i don’t have a wife,
not any longer. haven’t had one for years.) you said you would call,
saying it in a way that means it is true, then you left.

i went outside, into the night where many other young persons
were making their ways back home, some getting into cars while others
waited for buses. i wandered the parking lot, looking for my car,
the funhouse workers eying with suspicion this old man
who had come to play with the children. i held my car keys in my hand,
but my car had been stolen while i was inside playing games.

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

the interviewthe interview

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:57 am

she asked me what sort of experience i had

i told her any sort that she could possibly want

she asked me what kind of wage i would need

i told her i would work for free and pilfer everything she owned

she asked me if i knew how to file

i told her there was no jail that could hold me

she asked me if i liked to drink

i told her i’d rather hold a pebble under my tongue

she asked me if i smoked in bed

i told her i would if she set me on fire

she asked me when i could start

i told her i had never stopped

(Copyright 2023 by Tetman Callis.)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:56 am

“In learning any subject of a technical nature where mathematics plays a role, one is confronted with the task of understanding and storing away in the memory a huge body of facts and ideas, held together by certain relationships which can be ‘proved’ or ‘shown’ to exist between them. It is easy to confuse the proof itself with the relationship which it establishes. Clearly, the important thing to learn and to remember is the relationship, not the proof. In any particular circumstance we can either say ‘it can be shown that’ such and such is true, or we can show it. In almost all cases, the particular proof that is used is concocted, first of all, in such form that it can be written quickly and easily on the chalkboard or on paper, and so that it will be as smooth-looking as possible. Consequently, the proof may look deceptively simple, when in fact, the author might have worked for hours trying different ways of calculating the same thing until he has found the neatest way, so as to be able to show that it can be shown in the shortest amount of time! The thing to be remembered, when seeing a proof, is not the proof itself, but rather that it can be shown that such and such is true. Of course, if the proof involves some mathematical procedures or ‘tricks’ that one has not seen before, attention should be given not to the trick exactly, but to the mathematical idea involved.” – Richard P. Feynman, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. I (emphasis in original)