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A SMALL BOY, A MOUSE, AND THE UNIVERSE
 

What do you say 
when he asks about death? 
He wants to know what will happen

to his toys. 
There's no use in complicating things 
before he can understand,

if he ever can. 
I tell him 
he can take them with him.

Heavens, the Pharaohs 
thought they could take 
their boats, their staffs,

and their gold masks with them. 
The three great pyramids 
are a map of the belt of Orion

where they must have hoped they were going. 
Even Neanderthals placed a stone 
at the head of their dead.

Is a mouse alive? Yes
Is Moma alive? Yes
Is a rocket alive? Yes.

No, a rocket is a machine 
that enables us to soar. 
A leaf? Yes. A bed? No.

What's alive has juice. 
Yet a poem is a machine 
juicy with words and emotions.

It's common to complain 
that life is short. 
Yes, if you compare it

to the age of the universe. 
But our life is somewhere 
in the middle,

longer than a year, a day, a cell, a quark, 
longer than a chronon, 
ten to the minus fortieth power.

When you get old
do you lose your juice? 
Do you lose lightyears?

Yes, I tell him, 
you are the winner. 
I accentuate the positive

to keep the juices flowing and the light on. 
No, I tell him, I'm not going to die 
like a t-rex.

It is all a lie 
to keep him joyful. 
I hear the mousetrap

crack its machine. 
In the morning he will want to see 
the blood and the head guillotined.

Is he alive? Yes, 
and learning success 
expects success.
 


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