Michael Kocinski

The New Math is a Complicated Woman

In this dream your algebra homework is due—
points on a graph make your paper a Viking’s star chart,
with Brunhilde and her winged horse waiting on the X
across the sea, in the land of wine and deer fattened
on acorns.

But the woman you love is on the couch
with those thighs of hers, white as Cassiopeia’s
and thick as butter churns. And the newspaper
on the floor, peaked like a circus tent.

All the black and white photos feature bearded
women weeping for you, their dead husband. Every article
is your obituary—10,000 headlines, each one a different death.

You’ve never touched an ocean in this dream. It’s unbelievable.
In real life you’ve touched two of them and 100 women, who, when added
together, equal the salt of an unnamed body of water you’ve explored
but will never find again.

Nature has made leaves uncountable, innumerable bees,
so many people you could fall in perfect love 36,000 times—
imagine the traveling you’d have to do. Even in a dream, imagine
the oceans you’d cross, mountains to scale, the strange animals
you could kiss and give names to the natives wouldn’t recognize.

Look at those dots on your graph paper. Men returning
to their women after plotting the ocean’s invisible latitudes and
undreaming horizons. In this dream you’ve fallen from minor heights—

out of maple trees, mostly. You’ve raced pronghorn antelope
across the Great Plains, and swam in currents so strong your arms
diminished until you became a fish in this dream, dreaming of becoming
a man.

What do you do with this woman you don’t dream of, with your
math homework incomprehensible as her eyebrows, her fierce lipstick
mystifying and many-colored? When you wake up is she your dream
come true, the last time you have to die?


Michael Kocinski is a poet and illustrator living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He borrows too many books from the library at once. He loves insects and probably should have studied Entomology in college. He and his astonishing wife have three children who are loved beyond measure.