Black Boxes

by Eric Chaet

Patience!
I can hardly wait to be patient!
Every day, the same ritual I’d rush thru!
Birds do it in flight, & I would, too—but I’m no bird
& treasure what I think & do, birds can’t.
Maybe to the house-plant rooted in its humble pot of soil
it seems that I, too, shit in flight.
It might—if the plant had organs
with which to observe, wonder, decide, make, do.

Patience!—if ever I succeed
I won’t always, as I usually am, be hyper-vigilant & rushed.
The parts of my brain that must access the parts of my guts
this considering part of my brain can’t know
must be allowed their own agenda & schedule.

I can’t completely know, either
the history of this plumbing
mine to use along with each molecule of what I eat
each grain of sand & this system of galaxies
each specimen of each species & all the species—
no evidence of a creator
tho many stories circulate, likely & unlikely
intermingling creation & purpose
what’s is & what should be—
& if there be creator
without beginning or end, some say—
no greater mystery than that, amen.

Output of inputs, the function most complex of all
obscured by mere local, but spectacular events—
fireworks, battles, hormone-induced infatuations
the formation of empires & their collapse
extraordinary careers, comets, storms, earthquakes
the manufacture & assembly of interchangeable components
world-wide trade, supply chains, marketing campaigns
life- & family-disrupting injuries & illnesses—
the entire system, the full mechanism
so many factors interacting so many ways—
maybe never, certainly not yet completely clear to me—
a black box, the engineers call such.

Black hole, black night, blackout
coal, oil, coffee, ink, soil
lights out, the theater before the show begins
stealth, subterfuge, imagination times fear
the Black ghetto, the terrible Atlantic crossing
slaves in foul holds of their captors’ ships
the black hearts of slave traders
& of rapists, murderers, & tyrants
anonymously embedded in bureaucracies
or famous & dreaded by everyone but their pets—
the Holocaust & the Gulag Archipelago
the great recurring wars of the Congo
scarcely noted by the rest
of hustling or overwhelmed humanity—
arrested before dawn by police
careless whether they serve justice or only laws
proclaimed by & propping up rich heirs
& the cunning who serve them at others’ expense
& the strong who have seized the biggest share
& priests, journalists, & teachers busy justifying it—
the black obliviousness of those who have stopped
caring to know what’s going on, yet insist, “I know”—
& are determined to get what they’re programmed to want.

When some plane crashes, killing all aboard
the search for the black box to explain it
& avoid a second, similar tragedy—
but black death always comes for everyone, anyway.

Every body’s life’s a black box, no?—
every egg, sperm, grain of pollen, seed
& every chromosome, too, & every gene—
even every neutron, proton, electron, quark.

I rush to learn & apply what I learn
while I have time, breaths, heart-beats
& indignant & frustrated righteous ambition
to un-do what’s wrong & wright what’s right
& rectify my own suffering, every costly slight—
& on-going injustices perpetrated on others, too.

I don’t live in isolation, it’s impossible—
everything & everyone has business with me
& I have business with everything & everyone.

Meanwhile, gratitude, & long over-due patience!
Daily, what I’ve ingested & can’t use
& which would otherwise poison & destroy me
ejected for recycling—tho I never even will it
& have resented its interrupting my intentions—
how many thousand times!—
so I can live another day & do what I can do.

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Image: Wikimedia

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successive approximation series

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