Poem, 17

post of olive marrow,
winter lasso, arrived
each a mother,
a matron, & mistress
under the universe’s
cruel microscope.
each mind letters
a scientist and then,
17 of them: “I am a
whisper.” And then,
all that cuts thirst,
all in her walk to
the still lake, all
in each crimson gush
the maid cries into her keys.
“It must be.” For pistachio
myth, this extinct exchange,
no cuneiform across men’s
mysteries, chests,
aches, can cross.

The Brodmann area defining the primary visual processing area of mammallian brains, the atomic number of chlorine, the number which held the key to the control of natural forces in Godley & Creme’s Consequences, the halogen group in the periodic table, Messier object M17, a magnitude 7.0 nebula/cluster in the constellation Sagittarius, also known as the Omega Nebula, The Number Seventeen (1932), directed by Alfred Hitchcock, ‘the most random number’ as described by MIT, The New General Catalogue object NGC 17, a peculiar galaxy in the constellation Cetus, the age at which one may donate blood and join the military voluntarily, in the novel So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by Douglas Adams, a character who is unknowingly a rain god has a numerical scheme to categorize all the different types of rain which continuously bombard him; the worst, the heaviest, the least pleasant, is Rain Type 17, “a dirty blatter blattering against the windows so hard, it was impossible to tell whether he had the wipers on or off”, the ratio 18/17 was a popular approximation for the equal tempered semitone during the Renaissance, the age of the “Dancing Queen”, a mild swear word in Swedish, commonly used as “sjutton också!” (“seventeen, too!”), roughly be translated to “Darn!”, the maximum number of strokes of a Chinese radical, the number of syllables in a haiku (5+7+5), in Nordic countries the seventeenth day of the year is considered the heart and/or the back of winter, the number of trees Dostoevsky could see out of the window of his cell while he was in prison, the number of surat al-Isra in the Qur’an, in Italian culture, the number 17 is considered unlucky. When viewed as the Roman numeral, XVII, it is then changed anagramtically to VIXI, which in the Latin language it translates to “I have lived”, the perfect tense implying “My life is over.” (c.f. “Vixerunt”, Cicero’s famous announcement of an execution.) The Italian airline carrier, Alitalia, does not have a seat 17.

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