Back Cover Blurb
Peter Payack, environmental artist, founder of Phone-A-Poem (617) 492-POEM, inventor of the Stonehenge Watch, and a widely published writer refers to himself as, "a conceptual anarchist." The Christian Science Monitor has called him, "an ingenious bard." And when Payack projected poems into the nighttime sky during the Cambridge River Festival and Boston's First Night New Year's Celebration, The Boston Globe wrote, "For Peter Payack it seems the sky in not the limit." How true. His poem "No Free Will in Tomatoes," was sandblasted into the floor of Boston's Davis Square subway station. The Wall Street Journal has said, "Peter Payack puts poem in people's pockets"—and in store-front windows and fortune cookies and balloons. Commenting on his poetry mobile, Us Magazine noted, "He's a poet who should be hung."
Peter, Through his environmental works, has brought poetry into our daily culture. Today, when happening upon one of his poems, we laugh, we pay attention, and we think about these satirical, absurdist, philosophical pieces. It is with great pleasure that we now record Peter Payack's speculations in a book, of all places.
THE BARREL & BEYOND
The philosophical pickle ponders both that which is and that which might be beyond The Barrel, as speculative thought is usually described. He wonders what makes a cucumber pickled, and speculates whether life as we know it exists in the Beyond. After many months of study he determines that reality is made up of four primary elements: cucumbers, brine, pickling spices, and The Barrel. Further he concludes that there exists a Prime Mover who not only sets the whole works in motion but also decides what is to be, gives order to The Barrel and Beyond, and generally operates outside the limits of normal pickle thought and morality. That night, at dinnertime, the Prime Mover eats the philosophical pickle with a hamburger.
IT IS TOO HOT
"It is too hot
to live," said
the dead man.
It is too hot
to be dead," said
the Living man.
"It is too hot, let us
not argue," said
the mute man.
"Yes indeed, it is too hot
to waste words on one
another," said the deaf man.
"It is too hot
to write," I said.
"It is too hot
to read the nonsense
you write," she said.
"Fuck you," I said.
"It is too hot," she said.
THE BEGINNING OF THINGS
At the present time there are three theories concerning the paving over of the world. The first theory states that the Earth has always been and will always be paved, as pavement is continually created. This theory proposes the pavement to regenerate in perpetuum out of nothing. The second theory holds that the pavement (macadam, concrete, crushed stone, & asphalt) comes and goes in a cyclical fashion, with periods when the surface of Earth is more prone to paving than others. Some cite sunspot activity as the cause. The third theory, and the one which receives the most ridicule, suggests that the surface of the Earth was not always paved, and that at sometime in the distant past there was no such thing as a paved surface. It goes so far as to postulate such fanciful notions as "forest," "field," and "creatures." As can be expected, this theory is held mostly by mystics, poets, and other misfits. This is where the matter rests at the present moment. The fact is that as far back as history is recorded. the surface of the planet has always been paved, and as far as we can surmise, it always will be. Science offers no definitive answer to this most perplexing question.
THE GROWTH OF HUMAN IDEAS
How easy it is to be a gardener. In my garden plot I grow Ideas. I normally plant at least one row of primitive thoughts. These hardy creatures are easiest to grow, and flourish with little fertilizer and minimal care. Less than a week after they are planted, they sprout in their full, but pathetic, glory. Next to these I usually put in three or four rows of mundane perceptions. Any average garden soil will do, and they thrive under the most ordinary of circumstances. With any luck at all, an adequate yield is assured. This year, I am going to companion plant some bons mots about every fourth plant to keep this section colorful. Then I always like to round out the plot with a few rows of abstractions. These hybrids have to be specially ordered. They have to be planted with great care. A rich, sunny location is desirable. Among these, philosophical systems are the most fun to watch as they develop. Last year, because of mid-summer drought, the best I could do at harvest time was the 13th Century and the philosophy of Duns Scotus
THE ULTIMATE PARTY
All 74 billion people who once
Inhabited the Earth are invited
to a party. The invitations state
8 p.m., and to my surprise give
my apartment as the place. The
dress is causal. They all arrive
within a couple of hours of each
other. But the party's a bomb.
There is very little food, no space,
and the various languages present
a communications problem. After
a while, tempers grow short and fights
break out. One in the kitchen is
unusually violent for a party and
a man is stabbed. He turns out to be
the first man. He dies. In turn
everyone else disappears in order
of birth, dating back almost three million
years. This takes some time, and goes
on well into the middle of the night.
Finally I am left alone with
74 billion cups and glasses to clean.
I put it off until morning.
The Untimely Phone Call
All I did was to dial Time, when the operator said, "one moment" and then to my surprise continued "is a miniscule portion ofthe infinite whole, after all what is one moment in the everlasting flow of eternity?" And to that, I admitted, ! didn't have the faintest notion, as I only called to find out "what time is it" not "what is time!" When I tried to explain this by interjecting "One minute, Honey Pie ... ," she indignantly told me she'd have to get her supervisor. Without even so much as a "hello" the supervisor tersely said, "A minute is different from a moment in that an objective unit of time such as a minute consists of (by its intrinsic nature) an infinite series of subjective moments, each its own full reality bursting with an entire lifetime's existence." It was at this point that it dawned on me she wasn't going to tell me the time. So politely I said, "Excuse me, ma'am, I merely called to find out the time. I don't know what's the matter." Where upon hearing that innocent phrase, she exploded into the phone. "Listen buddy, this number is only for Time. Call General Information, for the latest theory on Matter."
THE GREAT DISPLACEMENT
Our view of the universe, or the Oxford English Dictionary as it is called by the local inhabitants, has been considerably reshaped and expanded. For countless years it was thought that the whole world revolved around our letter E. But that cosmology, like chaff in the wind, has blown away with the turmoil that ensued since the great displacement. It was found that E was merely one of the many worlds in this vast dictionary. Perhaps, fortuitously, we just happen to be here. Whatever the case, we are not alone! In the last century itself, three new letters have been found (D to the west, F and G to the east). All three have fertile environments, populated with numerous words, although admittedly some strange definitions have been observed. It is now thought the center of the dictionary is located somewhere beyond G between the mythical M&N, although for this there is no evidence at this time.
THE LIGHT OF HUMAN REASON
When I mockingly named the light bulb I installed in the kitchen the "Light of Human Reason," I chuckled with my cleverness and insightful wit. But that was before I realized its quality as a beaming conversationalist! In no time at all, the light became my constant companion and confidant. For many long nights we held glowing discussions and illuminating debates on the necessity of the Punic Wars, the military strategy of Julius Caesar, the astronomy of Ptolemy, the poetry of Catullus, and the virtues of the Roman Empire in general. Then, as the light began to fade, in panic we agonized over the Empire's inherent weaknesses and imminent fall. Now, with the light flickering, I huddle under the table, ominously Huns; the onset of the Dark Ages.
"By far the most efficient method of ingesting food
is by taking it in through the mouth, chewing, and then
swallowing to propel it on its route to the stomach," a
noted medical researcher revealed today. "We spent a
good deal of time on the problem," said the expert who
spent the major part of the last five years pursuing it.
A large selection of laboratory animals was used to secure
the results. "We hope for quick confirmation of our find-
ings," he said referring to the practice in the scientific
community of not accepting any results as final until they
have been duplicated in independent experimentation.
After a brief vacation, his next effort will be to find the
most effective method of voiding waste products from
NO FREE WILL
I place a tomato
on the windowsill
Slowly it turns red.
The Result of the Dig
"So it finally turned out after endless years of digging and researching. that the only bones found at the Olduvai Gorge were those of fellow anthropologists, who likewise were searching for earlier evolutionary specimens. You had Neanderthals looking for Homo Erectus, Homo Erectus excavating for Australopithicus, Australopithicus probing for the early anthropoid apes, who in turn sought out the first mammals. The earliest thing that they found was a tree shrew, and nobody knows exactly what he might have been looking for, though frankly by that time, nobody gave a damn."
are in love
with your hormones.