Physical Humour

Vincent Colistro


It’s a crying little shame, the way you were
treated, “failing to accrue any decent dividends
on the whole”—a cosmic-looking

birthday cake inscribed with diabetic-friendly
frosting: “Don’t worry, you’re the same age now
as you ever were,” for which you paid a share

of $8.50, and then an additional $1.50
for the plastic forks and paper plates, out of pocket,
or rather on the gesture, the contract implied

therein, unreciprocated, when your 52nd birthday rolled
through the halls of the Jacques Beaulieu building quite unregarded.
The autumn’s come hard on you, your theorems,

which I’ll admit I don’t much understand,
refuted and rerefuted, until your long, chirpy name
began to stink of otherness. Your favourite coat

came apart at the seams, and people couldn’t fathom
how a man could possibly get a sunburn in October. A nifty
trick, you told me, that we can’t see our hair or our fingernails

grow, but we can see a man turn red before he croaks:
perception optimizes our view of entropy—if I have this correct—
so it’s not crowding us, but we’re aware of it.

What time is made of, and why I feel, perpetually,
its blunt club at my back, has been the object of my ongoing
investigation. In one of my latest short stories

(pensee’s, really) a troubled escapee holds a rifle up
to a mystic and a physicist and tells them their life depends on answering
just that question. I can’t see it taking shape yet,

though I add and take away words… What am I
to say about it, other than it bothers me? We should be
so lucky our lives expire slowly.