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
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.