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  • Dick Altman

Marriage of Disparities


June 4, 2021: Veta of Mumbai opens his cell phone

and with the most inglorious of appendages, his thumbs,

finds every known fact in the world at his fingertips.

June 4, 1944: J. Robert Oppenheimer of Los Alamos

stands in front of a group of like-minded physicists and

with a scratch of chalk on slate, scribbles equations

that launch the Atomic Age.

Veta was checking the latest cricket scores. Oppy was

trying to tie together the work of scientific multitudes

who worked out fundaments of the universe, standing

in front of chalkboards, like schoolchildren.

Had there been no sea creatures to create chalk nor

sediments to yield slate, which could be wiped clean

of error and experiment, it’s quite possible quantum

mechanics and theoretical physics that make possible

cell phones might not, in a word, exist.

Union of chalkboard and cell phone stands as one

of humankind’s great marriages of disparities. For

want of a piece of chalk, as the saying goes, we

might still be fighting in the Pacific. Slotting dimes

in phone booths. And dying to read today’s cricket

scores tomorrow.


Dick Altman writes in the high, thin, magical air of Santa Fe, NM, where, at 7,000 feet, reality and imagination often blur. He is published in Santa Fe Literary Review, American Journal of Poetry, riverSedge, Fredericksburg Literary Review, Foliate Oak, Blue Line, THE Magazine, Humana obscura, Tatterhood Review, The Offbeat, Haunted Waters Press, Split Rock Review, The RavensPerch, Beyond Words, Sky Island Journal and others here and abroad. He is a poetry winner of Santa Fe New Mexican’s annual literary competition. He has authored two poetry collections, Voices in the Heart of Stones and Telling the Broken Sky.

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