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Published: Mon Oct 15 2001
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
Butterfly Effect

Forgive me, friend, because
I am thinking of a particular
sad Buddhist who has no
real friends anymore and
worries about his alcoholism and
is convinced that he desires nothing, and
I’m thinking of my old friend Walter
who talks to Jesus now and lectures
on creationism because he hasn’t
held a job for twenty years and
whose wife died young of cancer
and who knows that he is “saved,” and
I’m thinking of all the Americans
who believe that in former lives
they were Catherine the Great or Nefertiti,
and all the ones who believe
in the butterfly effect, e.g.:
some jerk who farts in Albuquerque
might trigger a typhoon in Sumatra,
though if that were true
we’d have more storms than Jupiter and
the earth already would be destroyed—
maybe the fluttering butterflies and the farts
cancel one another out, except for
particularly strong ones—and
I am thinking: “the greatest
country in the world since Rome” and
all us poor dumb fucks
heads filled with shit
muttering to ourselves
as we plod along.

See what's inside AGNI 54

Ed Ochester is the author of twelve books and chapbooks of poetry, the most recent of which are Unreconstructed: Poems Selected and New (Autumn House Press, 2007), The Republic of Lies (Adastra Press, 2007), and American Poetry Now (Pittsburgh, 2007). His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, AGNI, Boulevard, and elsewhere. He is a founding editor of the poetry magazine 5AM, a core faculty member in Bennington College’s MFA Writing Seminars, and the general editor for the Pitt Poetry Series. (updated 4/2011)

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