Twelve Fundamentals

Ted Mathys

First there is what matters.

Once it matters it is measured. Measured as mass. 

Mass is the amount of matter in an object. For example, in a rifle. In relations of matter and mass, celestial location is inconsequential. A rifle in the spheres is a rifle in Akron. Second, distinguished from mass, weight is the tug of gravityon a given rifle, polished or no. The gun, then, bears heavier on the man who carries it through Akron than on the man who drifts with it on his fingerprints through the spindle of planetary spheres. This distinction between the weapon's mass and weight must be maintained to prevent the properties by which we live from being blown to rags.

Third, to further pickle and preserve the balances by which we live, a truly stellar man must, then, refuse to entertain how the gravity of his decisions play out in Akron. Fourth, gravity is one flavor of force. A force causes a body to change in speed or direction. As in, slammed limp and laterally across the narthex by a seismic quake or fragmentation grenade.

This is what we mean by influence. In Akron, then, when any man influenced by conscience or conscription slings his rifle from his shoulder meat toward the great metallic lake to the north, a force causes it to make for the very center of what we call Earth.

Fifth, hard work is an American virtue. Work is done when a force movesan object in the direction of that force. For example, gravity or gunpowder pulling a flock of swifts or a bulletwith their beak dive or its spin drift down into a chimney or a sternum.

Sixth, the amount of hard work achieved is the product of the distance that the bird or the round travels and the force acting upon it - in this instance, gravity or infantry offensive. Merely applying force to an object is not scored as honest workunless measurable motion takes place. For example, a semicircle of radicals sedentary on private property in middle Akron taking baton blows to collarbones amid swifts funneling overhead is doing absolutely no hard work. If, however, the collaborative forces of batons plus plummeting birds causes the collective of radicals to collect their plum-lovely injuries and flee, some serious work is getting done.

Seventh, the rate at which work gets doneis called power. Power is the amount of work chalked up per unit of time.For instance, measured in terms of splash, the rifle slung in Akron is long enough airborne enroute toward the great metallic lake to the northand is pulled down forcefully enough toward the Earth's loin pit - where in the heat its chamberand hammer will melt to dross - to be powerful as hell.

Eighth, time, here, is the kicker. The ambitious mission of man is to assure with his stumptastic utterance and his dead finger salute to the arena flashing like plankton that the present is not the matter, is prologue, that the future is secure, that there always will be another Akron in which we will live better. This is what we mean by politics.

Ninth, in politics power is the capacity to change the behavior of others to get the outcomes one wants. But in order to measure changed behavior the preferences of the others must be known. For example, when a man in Akron is told to "swallow this barrel,motherfucker," we must be sure he does not already prefer to swallow this barrel, motherfucker. Otherwise power is an illusion.

Tenth, the crux of politics is prolix: power all sketched out in the excess of languages. The rest of politics is proxemics: allegiance to the authority of official distances between conceptual artillery and actual arteries. 

Eleventh, just as in Akron, in the lightless spheres the once and comfy notion of absoluteness has been outed over time as tyrannical. Replaced by situational, amorphous morals. Spiring irony: absent absolute all becomes permissible; orgiastic confetti of cartridges, sprinkles on the whitest of ice cream.

Thus, to last, the man adrift in the spheres remains rootless, maintains the essential elements of his arsenal. He must believe Akron is as Akron is and was and will always be, and violence is violence and wa ris war and in order to maintain order over pile upon pile of my dead body one must do what one must do. For when in doubt, tautology. This is what we mean by crisis of imagination.

Thus, to last, the other man must never leave his rusty-ass Akron, must imagine a method of resistance unknown to conceptual circles, position himselfv is-a-vis the wordless vacuity of worlds without gravity. In order to resist he imagines a flock of swifts sleek as a pattern of flying rifles seeking cover from a squall anchoring down in a chimney where their breasts blotch with ash, where their eyes liquefy from fire, and where he will be forced, above all else to salute their crude appeal.


Ted Mathys

Ted Mathys' first book of poetry, Forge, was published by Coffee House Press in 2005. A second collection, Surface to Air, will appear from CHP in 2009. A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts, his poems have appeared in Fence, Verse, jubilat, Web Conjunctions, Aufgabe, Colorado Review, and elsewhere. Originally from Ohio, he now bunkers in Brooklyn.

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