The Strange Hours Travelers Keep, by August Kleinzahler

The markets never rest
Always they are somewhere in agitation
Pork bellies, titanium, winter wheat
Electromagnetic ether peppered with photons
Treasure spewing from Unisys A-15 J mainframes
Across the firmament
Soundlessly among the thunderheads and passenger jets
As they make their nightlong journeys
Across the oceans and steppes

Nebulae, incandescent frog spawn of information
Trembling in the claw of Scorpio
Not an instant, then shooting away
Like an enormous cloud of starlings

Garbage scows move slowly down the estuary
The lights of the airport pulse in morning darkness
Food trucks, propane, tortured hearts
The reticent epistemologist parks
Gets out, checks the curb, reparks
Thunder of jets
Peristalsis of great capitals

How pretty in her tartan scarf
Her ruminative frown
Ambiguity and Reason
Locked in a slow, ferocious tango
Of if not, why not

Mary, Color Scientist, by John Beer

No one comes here anymore.
I have a token NO
I have an idea NO
I was washed up

on a lab table, in the traditional
manner. “Everybody wants
to say the joyful joyfully, and I
finally saw it, when I was destroyed.”
Talk all you like, you’re already dead.


Mary, would you like to come outside?
Mary worked so long and hard
In the palace of black and white.
Mary knows things I don’t know.
She knows every tear I’ve cried.
She gave her life to seeing sight.
Mary, Mary, when will you come outside?


Well, we have these instruments


Beauty is a tooth. Correction:
The telephone rang. I was looking
At brown, there’s a history
I’m not getting into, beauty
Is still a tooth. Correction:

Nobody wanted to go to the post office.


Individually a vision, a vision
Individuate. You manx.
“Yeah, it’s that paper that lights up
When you look at it.” But why did
The ground start moving? Catch up.
She knew it was happening before
It started to happen. Catch up.
“What did you do, pay for
Those eyes?”


Opaque: the rose is not red until your eyes fall upon it.

Translucent: the rose is not red until your eyes.

Transparent: the rose is not red.


Etc. Look, the story concerns Mary, and Mary alone. Mary
alone in her colorless tower.
Snow will fall, day turn to night, and not even postmen evade
her sight,
Lidless, fulfilling the ancient dream, she sees the tanks roll
into Gaza
And dieters, she sees with all-encompassing eyes the shredding
of orders,
Kids sneaking into The Story of O, the football scrimmage, and
Ending, she sees the end of Paris and Fort Worth, she watches
subways melt
Sleeplessly, she knew how it all would work out, she trains her
dials on the death
Of kings sitting sadly by the waterfront shacks, she sees
beyond the genius
Of Edwards Teller, Hopper, and Lear. You and I are the trouble
she’s seen.

Mary, wouldn’t you like to come outside?

Mary, Mary, when will you come outside?


The sky was black. The sky was blue.
I was sitting someplace. I saw it.


The community got together, as communities will,
And waited together for death. Some of us
Were colorblind, so when they lifted the red flag
To signal the drink, we had to be prodded
By neighbors. In a couple of cases,
There were clusters of the colorblind, after all
A genetic trait: these familial bands
Required repeated prodding by strangers
On the outskirts. It produced a wavelike pattern,
All this prodding, so that to an outside observer,
One tuning in from remote satellite, for example,
It was reminiscent of a Busby Berkeley scene,
Or one of those marching band routines
In which the scrambling about of the sousaphone players
Suddenly blossoms into a starfish or some kind of
Risqué joke. But within fifteen minutes or so,
The prodding subsided, and after that the drinking,
The twitching, and we all lay dead in the field.


After she emerged, she saw red, and it was red.
She emerged, and saw yellow. She saw blue.
After she emerged, she saw what green was like.
She saw purple and orange and gray.