Winter 2001 • Vol. XXIII No. 1 Poetry |

Life under Conditions of Uncertainty

The problem is always how to decide, Given the limited information at one's disposal. "Decide" may be the wrong word, And as for "information," limited or otherwise, Think about the war of words that rages Like a fire across the surface of the national mind. Morning finds a person mired in a routine. Evening leaves him staring at the sky And fabricating private constellations from the stars. The invisible hand is palsied, The prisoners in their cells sit paralyzed, Deflecting one another in an endless regress of anticipation And nostalgic for the wilderness they left behind. The dimensions of reflection are the borders of a screen Where rows of shifting figures wander back and forth As though the wild apparitions in the sky Had been converted into numbers, and contained. It starts out slowly, with a few assumptions And some rules of reason, some attractive intuitions— And then it all goes down the drain: The printouts start to pile up on the desks As cities smolder in a bland and

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John Koethe’s The Swimmer, has just been published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. His previous books include North Point North: New and Selected (2002), Ninety-Fifth Street (2009), which received the Lenore Marshall Award, and ROTC Kills (2012).

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The problem is always how to decide, Given the limited information at one's disposal. "Decide" may be the wrong word, And as for "information," limited or otherwise, Think about the […]

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The problem is always how to decide, Given the limited information at one's disposal. "Decide" may be the wrong word, And as for "information," limited or otherwise, Think about the […]

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