in the monastery of electromagnetic love

by Lynn Pattison


Lights flash

and little Tesla

does not see

the way people would like


Say a word:

candle, ax, windmill:

he sees it so real he reaches

out; sees it in four languages.

No different to him than the sewing needle

in your hand, a bean.


Are there tintypes

of the child,

Nikola, in the garden

devising miniature turbines

powered by June bugs,

does he smile?


Serbian boy

living inside his head,

where he ran his idea

machines, finding the flaws

as they turned and ground

in his mind's eye,

no concrete

models required.


In Prague signals bombard

him from far planets.

He chooses celibacy, marries

electricity, like nuns

marry Jesus. Ecstatic

when power arcs

and surges.


No winking or back

slapping, no knack

for the Capitalist way—

big deals, bigger names:

Westinghouse, Morgan.

No time for anything

that's not irresistible.


Visitors' day in Colorado Springs:

he juggles the red fireball

in his hands, touches

it to his rumpled suit, hair.

He lowers it into a wooden box.

Nothing's singed.

The End.


"Many of us sing

but there may not always be someone

who listens," you said.

The world turned a deaf ear

to your death ray. How

could they make war

anymore if armies knew

how to stop each other

in their tracks?


He mulls & mutters

with the pigeons, who understand

the fire that streams

through everything: oak

and river and soil, enervating

the simplest act. Plucking a string,

scratching words on paper.


It was not the pigeons

who extracted every paper

and notebook, scoured

the flat before the world knew

you were gone, feared

your scribbled pages

more than lightning.

Lynn Pattison's poems have appeared in The Notre Dame Review, Heliotrope, Rhino, Dunes Review, Controlled Burn, and On Spec, among others, and been anthologized in several venues, including The Best of Branches 2004, and Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory, (Ed. Sean Miller & Shveta Verma, June, 2008). Pattison, twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, is the author of two chapbooks: tesla's daughter (March St. Press, 2005) and Walking Back the Cat (Bright Hill Press, 2006) and the book, Light That Sounds Like Breaking (Mayapple Press, 2006).