Thursday, May 13, 2010

Eavesdropping Over Coffee

For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses.
—Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

They sat at a table
too close to ignore.
I heard their words, phrases,
questions. Even when I
lost the meaning, a handful
of words drifted my way.

Quantum physics, the
curly haired man said.
Then his voice receded
into his coffee mug.

Uncertainty principle, words
sent out like an outrageous truth.

The uncertainty of memory
lasting, or losing chronology.
The certainty of ambiguity.
The interrogation of principles—
possible martyrdom or sacrifice.

But what of wave function?

I mumbled about the uncertainty
of sneaker waves or sleeper waves
running past the foam line—unpredictable,
and rogue waves carrying frigid passions.

God I heard one man say, does not play dice.

Einstein's words, I said.

Linda Watskin ©2010
Big Tent Poetry "Come One, Come all"


  1. Fab last line! You have realy accomplished the spirit of the prompt, with your puzzlement coming through loud and clear.

  2. Yes, the last two lines really finish the piece perfectly. You did a fine job with this prompt!

  3. As a person who loves physics (especially the pros and cons of quantum and string theories), I thought your poem was delicious. It ended beautifully.

  4. Physicist's daughter herewho grew up on uncertainty the principle. My favorite line of yours is "the certainty of ambiguity" omething I truly believe. And thanks for the "infinity of hypothesies" quote too.

  5. I love the way you approached this poem, writing it from words you eavesdropped while having coffee. I find myself thinking about 'uncertainty principle.' Nodding my head in agreement there, LOL. And the last two lines were wonderful! (Oh, and thanks for visiting / commenting on my blog poem too.)

  6. I love the voices you hear in the overheard.

  7. rogue waves carrying frigid passions - perfect. A great read!

  8. Delightful poem. I liked the words, the thoughts, you allow the reader to be a voyeur x 2, and it's splendid.

    (Jill, I believe, wrote an eavesdropping prompt for RWP back in the day. This fit that, and the listening for words prompt wonderfully!)

  9. i love to eavesdrop and these are great gems! uncertainty principle and god playing dice definitely belong in a poem! good job grabbing them.

  10. Linda,
    Excellent job with the prompt.

  11. Linda! What have you been listening to! My word! (I love quantum physics, string theory, and 16 dimensions...if only somebody would write--or speak-- about it in words on one syllable).

  12. I got stuck at your quote remembering what times were like when I read books like Zen... and my mind wandered off. And when I came back I saw the words quantum physics and wandered again like I do when my husband speaks of such things. But, I was there with you eavesdropping and drinking coffee and wondering what was your prompt or were you totally on your own. I enjoy being with you in the coffee shops.

  13. Cathy,

    Thanks. I enjoy coffee shops. The prompt: find some words that are "foreign " to you and write a poem employing those words.

    I happened to sit near two men deeply engrossed in a discussion about physics ( quantum and string theory).