the three-body problem

by diane raptosh


               Solutions to the three-body problem may be of an arbitrary
complexity and are very far from being completely understood.  –Scholarpedia


i) Periodic Systems of Astronomical Interest

Like some Carica papayas, George Washington had the XXY condition. He
pointed out that he was statuesque, had no kids but rather broad hips,
a size 13 boot, and a fondness for swatches of calico. He liked to rub
and compare them, to watch them through moon-mote, to flutter and twirl
them in horseshoe orbits. He powdered his red-brown hair and tied it in
a braid down his back like a small mane. When George was elected, a
czarina reigned in Russia, a shogun lorded over Japan. Only the office
of President endures. In this case we can ignore the influence of the
light body on the other spheres. For assurance, Washington carried a
pocket sundial wherever he went. He bred hound dogs he named Tarter,
True Love, and Sweet Lips. He would spell words like blue as
blew, oil as oyl, and eie for an eye. The six white horses in Washington's
stables had their teeth brushed every morning. Washington's orders. As
can be seen, the three-body problem—its four degrees of freedom—offers
myriad options for public service.


ii) Without Loss of Generality, We Consider the Three-Body Problem on a Plane

                                                                         Three healthy male volunteers
in their 20s were placed bare-chested in front of cameras in light-tight rooms
for 20 minutes every three hours from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for three days.
Researchers watched body-gleam spool through the dark. “If you see the
sheen from the surface of three bodies, you can see the whole body condition,"
states researcher Etsuko Kobayashi from Kyoto U.


iii) Three Bodies of Equal Mass Follow Each Other at Uniform Spacing

If there was a drowning in the River Rappahannock, her mother would

note how that was the third in a series, even if it was not, or how there

would be a third drowning if two had taken place within the past six years.


iv) Celestial Mechanics

Her boyfriend is the mother of her child.


v) Two Bodies Move Closely Round Each Other and Around a Third Body Far Away

The oil-black aril-covered seeds in the papaya’s core, which smack 
of nasturtiums, have contraceptive effects in adult male langur monkeys

and handpicked blue-green eyed persons . . . .

 


“The Three-Body Problem” was first published in The Prose Poem Project, Fall 2010

rugged western individualism

by diane raptosh


A man who is his own wife gives birth to his identical twin through his belly button. For months, he thinks it’s a cyst. Fistula. Ingrown hair. A fir tree germinating in his spleen. He father-mothers this shriven boy, fine and tiny as walnut lung. With equal parts sweetmeats and a firm touch, he bathes this baby in a small green bowl—that wee, webbed blood of living kin. Nights, the man daubs his chafed nipples with tea bags and lays a wet cloth on his eyes. He tugs at the far left swirl of his mustache. He sometimes wonders out loud: Am I famished? Is this fullness? When he kisses his own hand, his wife strokes his cheek.

 


“Rugged Western Individualism” was first published in The Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets (2013)

misanthropy

by robert wrigley


— for Paul
 

The only words that exist here
are mine. Well, mine and Paul’s,
who carved his name and a date
twelve years ago in this log
by the fire ring. Let me revise:
the only words that are spoken here
are mine, though they are infrequent.

Unless I am mistaken, all I’ve said
aloud today is “Good morning”
to a cedar waxwing, and “Thank you”
to the wind, for blowing the horde
of mosquitoes away for a while.
Also “Shit,” when I dropped my spoon
in the dirt at breakfast this morning.

At the top of the peak I walked up
earlier, I said “Yes,” peculiarly affirming
the sweat and rigor of the walk. Also the view.
On the way down, entering the trees again,
I saw a bear’s excavation at the base
of a slope of scree and started singing,
for some reason, “When I’m Sixty-Four.”

Because I love places without people,
some people conclude I do not love them.
That I prefer the company of trees.
But by tomorrow, the third day of near wordlessness,
I will be a garrulous fool, addressing the lake
and greeting a single small, white cloud
like an old and very dear friend passing through.

That night I’ll speak my praise to the fire
and say a few poems by heart to the dark.
Then, as the flames begin to settle to coals,
I’ll speak to Paul himself, almost as though
he were here with me, and promise him,
though I disapprove of what he has done,
that I’ll get his name, at least, into a poem.

written in a journal, while sitting on a rock, in the frank church river of no return, august, 2008

by robert wrigley


Very early gray-lit morning. I’m shivering
in my boxers, barefoot in sparse high country grass,
pissing, when I see on the lake’s opposite shore,
a solitary wolf, making its way wherever it is
it’s going, half an hour or so before sunrise.
It may be that it senses my shivering before it sees me,
or hears the spatter of my piss, but now there is no doubt
I am something it would rather not see nor especially be seen by.
It picks up its pace and moves back into the trees.
It stops now and then to be sure I haven’t moved,
then at last breaks into an actual run, and disappears
among boulders along an ancient glacier’s terminal moraine.
I do not ordinarily rise so early to relieve myself,
but through the tent flap I could see mist rising
from the cold surface of the lake, still
and dimpled everywhere by feeding trout.
They were feeding, and still are, on mosquitoes,
which are now everywhere on me and likewise feeding,
but I’m still standing here, shivering, knowing
when the sun comes out it will awaken the wind,
and the wind will ruck the surface of the water
to a thousand tiny, soundless waves, and knowing also
that if I stay where I am, motionless, I might yet see
the wolf again, though I do not, and at last
I do a kind of spasmodic dance to shake away
the mosquitoes, and head back to my tent,
when I note, along the way, the massive canine tracks
of a wolf all around the fire ring, all across
the worn campsite ground to within no more
than a foot from the head of my tent
and around the tents of my still-sleeping compatriots too,
which I will point out to them when they awaken,
after I’ve put on my clothes and built the morning fire,
after I’ve lowered the food bags from the tree limb
we hoisted them to last night, and brewed
a pot of coffee, and sat myself on rock,
and slathered bug dope abundantly over
all my exposed flesh, as I wait for the sun to rise,
for the wind to roughen the surface of the lake,
for them to join me here, where I will point out the tracks
and tell them, in great detail, what it is I have seen.

statement of place: robert wrigley

I have lived most of my adult life in Idaho, and I spend as much time as I can out in the woods and the river canyons. The immensity of Idaho’s wild lands is why I continue to live here. My wife (the writer Kim Barnes) and I spend, on average, a month of nights each summer, camped on one or another of Idaho’s rivers, fly fishing. I love fishing because it’s the only thing I’ve found that’s nearly as difficult, and rewarding, as writing. Since I’m a ways into my sixties, I don’t backpack as often as I used to, but I still get myself into the wilderness for at least one trip each summer. I have heard and twice even seen wolves out there, for which I feel blessed.

statement of place: allison linville

I spent my entire childhood in Idaho traipsing through the Sawtooth Mountains and the Bruneau Desert with my family. My family also spent summers commercial fishing in Alaska, which meant my sister and I were allowed to explore with more freedom than we would at home. Sometimes we would find ourselves a few miles away from our island camp, narrowly escaping the rising tide.

After graduating from Boise State University, I moved to Montana and began working in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. From my childhood, I felt very connected to the landscape around me. After spending time at a remote fire lookout where my only companions were the landscape and the sky, I now feel connected to the land as though it is my closest friend. In times when I was hiking alone in the wilderness, or almost walked off a cliff in the fog, or saw a grizzly bear a little too close, I was not afraid of the land around me; I trusted it to take care of me, or at least know my place in it, large or small, safe or not.

driftwood blanched

by allison linville


Bristle tea and rosehip teacups.  
                           Visions include walking among stalks of vegetables.  
                                                     Stalks that grow down, stalks that grow up.  

                                        Growing lemonade, are you?  

Today, thimbleberries widen 
              in the cracks of tables, 
                           the cracks of watered down wood.  


Eating gardens of gardens of gardens and your mother never called you back.  

                                        Set your latest whipping almonds aside 
                                        for future garnishes; 
                                        you have so many beads 
                                        already, darling.  

              You never want 
                           your celeries to be lavish or cold.  
                                                     Running on apricots.  

Would you ever have thought our letters 
              would spontaneously grow themselves?  


              Hurry over now, you say, 
              you don’t want to be reading to yourself.   

Someday, you will have a child of thorns, you hear.

twenty seven

by allison linville


Driving from the big sky to the desert 
                                        sky is impossibly grand for this life.  

I have never thought that everything starts 
             when people say it does.  

It starts now 
it seems 
ends soon 
I can feel it, and 
I will go ahead and 
restart it after that.  


There was snow and in the kitchen, we could talk. 

Tomato soup.  
The art of nice; 
             the brevity of low.  

In April, the desert welcomed 
                           us with its warm, 
                                         dry nights and we heated 
                                         and walked and learned the 
                                                                                value of sunrise.  

Sunrises away, sunrises over lakes.  

I never knew it would be so heavy 
                           to run.  

And despite your unending effort, 
             we still moved south 

                           and it hurts, and it hurts.

coordinates

by allison linville


I am unwittingly cold 
                                        every night you have a hold on the doorknob. 
             Lamps offer light 
from propane, 
wood convects to add warmth. 
 
                                        I cannot explain to you the morning,
                                                     in the morning.  
             Where emptiness of air 
                                        is the only thing that could fill you up.  


Required distance 
             descendent of thunder 
                           wearing bolts of fabric. 

I do not record that which I love.  

Rain splatters down the fry pan 
                           you exhale abruptly at the sparks.  

Flowers puff into fire; 	
              a new way to fold paper. 
                           Static blows through treetops.  

We are so accompanied by our worries.  	
                                                                  Wooden spoons hit bottom.   
                           So that your fingernail might cover the place you wish to be.