My Longest Poem

The longest poem I have yet/ever written originated at Northpark Mall in Davenport during the long weekend of my poetry-writing grad course that got me recertified for teaching purposes the first time, back in 1984. I still like it, all science and mysticism blurred together that it is — resulting from my reading of too many things that I have probably mentioned on the blog already (or can easily discuss in posts yet to come). After the long weekend, I feel too tired to offer explanations today, but the verse itself will permit a post.

Iʼm going to break it into chunks for daily posting and then maybe create its own Longer Items page later.

The title, “Ayn-Sof,” is a kabbalistic reference to the unnameable and unknowable (and nonexistent) First Cause, the actual Godhead, the source of each emanation behind and between the realities of the Universe, the Bearded Secret originating and uniting all energies, things and particular energetic components of possible things everywhere (and nowhere). The Hebrew translates as “Nothing” but can also mean “Infinite.” Also, as James Joyce knew, paring his elegantly godlike fingernails, when one starts a poem, one is making (the Greek meaning of the word) a Big Nothing that might be or become Something. Or not. Therefore, it seemed appropriate to begin this poem with the instant of creation — the Big Bang itself.

Here are parts one and two (of ten — to match the Sephirot).


The shapes which struggle from apparent chaos are strings
which lace the face of God: so count,
who may,
the multiple hairs in his huge beard
and shape at last his awful name.


When the universe exploded
from a single lightmad point of splendor,
possibly fifteen billion years ago,
subatomic shrapnel blasted into directions,
colliding, annihilating, bursting apart and
beginning time.

Cooling of the initial radiation allowed
the original quarks to group into larger,
more stable configurations,
becoming protons, neutrons, electrons
and their antibodies.

Einstein’s kaleidoscope’d begun.

If the energy of creation
is insufficient
to continue to propel the matter of the universe
apart forever,
the cosmos will eventually collapse,
the force of its own weight inhaling
all the scattered stars, dust, gas and light
to a single point,
perhaps a dozen couple billion years from now.

That instant of universal gravity
could conceivably
ignite again,
blowing up a new universe,
and some cosmologists speculate about
the persistence of any structure ― even the strangest
quark ― from our World into that imagined future

Contemporary measurements,
appear to indicate
the matter comprising the cosmos to be too small
at first ever to be gathered again.

Thus, each particle will continue its flight
from every other ― down to the upmost quark ― until
all energy is exhausted
and the universe is left
a lightless, flat and infinite waste
of inert and motionless unmatter.


“Nur der Satz hat Sinn: nur I’m Zusammenhage des Satzes hat ein Name Bedeutung.” (Wittgenstein, Logisch-Philosophische Abhandlung, 3.3)

“The ‘experience’ which we need to understand logic is not that such and such is the case, but that something is; but that is no experience.

Logic precedes every experience ― that something is so.

It is before the How, not before the What.” (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 5.552)

“Die Tatsachen im logischen Raum sind die Welt.” (1.13)

Ludwig Wittgenstein
effectively demonstrated
the bankruptcy of metaphysical propositions
in his first published book. His friend,
mentor and follower,
Bertrand Russell wrote
An Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy
while in a British prison during the First World War.

The Viennese bachelor preferred
watching American Westerns while munching
a pork pie
to enduring the intellectual vacuity of Mind.

Both are now dead.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

One thought on “My Longest Poem

  1. What an interesting section of the longer poem…Bertrand Russell was one of my favorites to read in grad school…not sure why..except his writings were always challenging….thanks for this post and poem.

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