Robed and Naked

Insatiable Moloch, the cyclotron, in the Berkeley hills,
gobbled up engineers, physicists and students like me.
I intently followed sparse dot tracks, connecting
microscopic silver grains in a murky emulsion
exactly measuring, evaluating, and recording
event after event day after day into night.
Good at it, excited, I found I wanted more,
found I could make a living, find certainty
in science, in physics, found my open door.

But elsewhere I was drunk on words
wished to live in cascades of wonder, ecstatic whimsey
dancing wildly loose, un-robed to Stravinsky
whisky uplifted with girls and guys in a foggy beach shack,
dreaming and trying to write like Henry Miller freely.

Mathematics are clear, crisp paths of past into future
equations of state, fixed Newtonian laws to revel in,
even the Quantum weird, lord of all that was and will be,
I gloried in invention, patents, papers written
became incased in government corporations.

I thought I could live a double life,
I wrote a novel, gloried in making long sentences,
echos of Henry James, felt the rhythm in poems
Duncan, Rexroth, Levertov, Ginsberg, Eliot, Pound.
I burnt my classroom notes, thought I burnt the physics trapping me,
dreamt of being other than what I did. ( lost even this after many years)
Often home late, tired, after dinner and martinis,
in the alcoholic haze, remembered who I would like
to have been, and could not then be.

Kent Bowker 5/14/2015

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