Zero Kelvin

Zero Kelvin

by Richard Norman


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781927428450
Publisher: Biblioasis
Publication date: 12/10/2013
Pages: 72
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Richard Norman lives in Halifax. He has recently published poetry in The Malahat Review, The Puritan, and CV2, among other Canadian journals. His first collection is forthcoming from Biblioasis.

Read an Excerpt


It is a human urge—
to orbit backwards at great speed.
Experimentally, you do it
and then the crack of lightning,
the open-ended snowflake, splits the sky.
Just as the sculptor cut the fat off space,
you going backwards renders time.
Seconds drop like filings when a magnet is turned off.


From high above the now night sky
a satellite begins to stare.

It has an eye that cuts right through.
More and more,

its circle is going elliptical as it gets slightly older.

You stare into the cauldron of the sky,
induced to not be there,

and see the sky inside the body—
dark like the inside of a heart

and the lightning darker still.
Navy veins streaming down,

grounded in the spark that makes the muscle start.

A machine washes out the blood
deep in the infinity of space.


Every hole redacts a star.
A ghostly light surrounds each hole.
Most ghosts are just reflections back
from certain curves when they first bent.
Gazers trace their shape out of the blackness that is all above.


Like life on Earth, galaxies eat one another.
From close up a Caligulian banquet,
but dispassionately stately from a distance.
The Milky Way's neighbour, Andromeda,
currently devours one of its slaves.
When you attend, you watch with fascination as it towels off its maw and spits the remnants out into the vastest vomitorium.

More than a dozen clusters scatter around Andromeda,
cosmic remains of vast past banquets
and the preceding emetophilia.
Prophets who know the scientific method believe our galaxy and its neighbour will eat each other three billion years from now.
Social mobility being what it is,
slaves may then be emperors.


The filaments and voids in smaller surveys are cephalopods swimming slowly out of sight
until only open ocean’s left,
the vast expanding scope.

We see big space and remnants of mnemonic microwaves,
leaves roused on a summer day,
warm animal embrace of spouse.

We don’t know what order they belong within or if their core contains our futures.

We send our astrophysicist to dive parabolically,
weightless, almost in space.

Completely paralyzed by ALS
and handled gently by the crew,
he grins and rotates in these shallows.


My friend, look out upon the surface of Titan,
the sea of methane impossibly unfrozen.

Weigh the weight of the fire,
or the blast of the wind,
or bring back a day that is past.

Be the prophet who gazes through the speculum
and sees an image like a face.

What’s in the polished stone is the same blackness
that stores mnemonic static.

Look through a telescope-glass darkly
at that old time, the face inside the static.

A high priest by the name of Eric Demaine,
youngest professor at MIT,
will adapt the map-fold to a solar sail.

Light landing on the massive sheet propels the instrument away at speeds exceeding time.

Would it not be wondrous to watch it enter its new orbit,
to see it slowly open,
our chrysanthemum in space?


Objects crossing or approaching the orbit of Neptune . . . are given
mythological names associated with the underworld.

—“How Minor Planets Are Named,” International Astronomy Union

An image appears in the crafted glass.
The same image that will shrink to fill a contact lens.
The same horror in an instant

of losing irretrievably an heirloom.
It’s only natural stars recede from the expectation of a billion gazes.

But everything is stored. The night returns restored
projected from the data.
Behind the screen the algorithm

(soon to graduate to etiquette)
reveals the folk inside the medium.
These women photograph themselves,

upload their dust into a cloud.
Seeded, these banks of clouds will fill—
each particulate of dust, each pearl congealing.

Theology, the study of dark matter,
conclusively has proven
the well of hell is zero Kelvin.

Movement ceases,
molecules foetally curl into themselves.
And at the lowest circle of our galaxy

a black hole squats.
O wondrous Goatse of another realm!
Radio source,

mass of four million suns,
beams out pure revelation.
Cults worship at its altar.

The faithful pray:
Do not leave your house—
sit quietly and listen.

An LED illuminates
the ether in the vitrine.
And models show the diodes rapidly receding

and the backlit screen expanding,
and the transudation,
and something dug up from deep within

that will not act and will not leave,
a thing that makes a truce with space,
a relic of the underworld.


After Nikolai Morozov

The thorn trees in the terraced yard.
The little place, below the little sun.

The gleaming face, beneath the girandole
of bursting stars.

Look at the figures in the sky.
Look at the horsemen riding there.

All has been assigned on this last day of life.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Desert /3
Strange Days /6
Filament /7
Scan /8
Kingdom of Kush /9
Lake Nyasa /12
City /14
Vukovar /16
Pool /18
Goma /19
Valve /22
Spring /23
Harbour /25
Ocean /26
On Winter Nights /28
Cedar /29
Drinkers /30
Voices /32
Under the Volcano /33
Qom /34
Seville /36
Killers /37
Tsar Bomba /39
April /40
Living Water /41
Far From Here /43
Solitaire /44
Event Horizon /45
The Core /46
Eye 1 /47
Eye 2 /48
Experiment /49
Operation /50
Redaction /51
Banquet /52
Theories /53
Solar Sail /54
Theology /55
Patmos /57

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