Thursday, July 19, 2012

[Poem] What Kills A Man

We're approaching the 5th year anniversary of my first full-length book of Lao American Speculative Poetry, On The Other Side Of The Eye, from Sam's Dot Publishing in 2007. This book opened with "What Kills A Man," an original piece that had never been previously published before.

This poem came out of an understanding that there is infinite space beyond us but also within us. As we see the discovery of the Higgs Boson and the findings of the Hubble telescope among others, I'm happy to see much of this remains relevant.

In many ways, the poem was also inspired by Albert Einstein's famous remark "The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking...the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."

What Kills A Man

                     Always small things:
                     A round.
Split atoms.
A second.
A footstep.
A sip.  A bite.  A word.  A cell.

A motion. An emotion. A dream.
A fool.

A bit of salt. A drop. A fragment.
The true root of arguments.

What kills a man is mysterious
Only in how minute the culprit
Behind the blow.

We’re careless, and forget:
Even when what kills a man
Is another man,

It is a small thing that kills a man,
The whole earth a single grain

            On a sprawling table filled with the smallest things.

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