King and Queen With Swift Nudes

A Poem About X-Rays, I Think

These juggernauts composed, their shoulders cliffs,
These things are known, their natures, depths and widths,
Unmoving, ever there, asleep, awake,
Know them thyselves, and can each other make.

Across a, what, a chasm, table, aisle?
A look. A vessel. Cold. A scowl. A smile.
A tunnel carries, what, a knife, hello?
What’s in a look, to know? To never know?

And, naked, ‘tween them, ‘tween itself, ‘tween all,
Electrons make their way: a waterfall.
These nudes, unnoticed, known but not discussed
Pass unacknowledged by them. Crucial. Dust.

The atoms, though, we’ve seen, their nature known.
Each year a deeper theory’s overthrown.
Between the blocks, between again they find
A newer spark, the dark they’re in defined.

These two have looked for ages, seen so much,
And ages hence each deeper pearl they’ll clutch
Will swim forever by; the river groans,
Forever deep, unknowingly unknown.


Marcel Duchamp was a big science buff, and right around the turn of the century he started learning about atoms and subatomic particles and x-rays. And so that’s what he painted.

If you have the day off, I hope it’s a good, lazy one. If you don’t, if you’re having a day at work, I hope it’s a good, lazy one anyway. Damn the man. It’s Labor Day.

Thanks for reading.

This is Phil.


Image: King and Queen With Swift Nudes by Marcel Duchamp