Archive for August 21st, 2012

“The Purpose of Time is to Prevent Everything from Happening at Once”

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Happy birthday, Joe!

X.J. Kennedy – a.k.a. Joe Kennedy – turns 83 today.  I fished out a 1999 email from him so that I could send off a quick birthday greeting before the day expired on the East Coast.  And I received a quick email reply within an hour or so.  Good to know he’s online and quick on the draw.

Birthdays are, of course, a reminder of time.  What better and more fitting way to celebrate than with one of my favorite poems by him:

And yes, Joe, it’s true.  “Huh?  What happened?”  I’m at that point now.


The Purpose of Time is to Prevent Everything from Happening at Once

Suppose your life a folded telescope
Durationless, collapsed in just a flash
As from your mother’s womb you, bawling, drop
Into a nursing home. Suppose you crash
Your car, your marriage – toddler laying waste
A field of daisies, schoolkid, zit-faced teen
With lover zipping up your pants in haste
Hearing your parents’ tread downstairs – all one.

Einstein was right. That would be too intense.
You need a chance to preen, to give a dull
Recital before an indifferent audience
Equally slow in jeering you and clapping.
Time takes its time unraveling. But, still,
You’ll wonder when your life ends: Huh? What happened?