brunch with majida

September, 2016

I ordered a salad and Majida a burrito,

this not being the day she and Robert

begin their healthy eating regime,

Then I hooked her up to my mic,

and an hour later, sensing our waiter

wanted our booth, we paid and moved

to Bisbee Breakfast Club’s lawn chairs,

braving Tucson’s stifling 105 degree heat,

to share more about our trips, hers to Maine,

mine overseas, starting with Tenerife.


“So there I was, in the Canary islands,

at Starmus III,” I said, “hearing talks from

 my favorite scientists, including Neil Tyson,

Brian Greene, Brian Cox, Martin Rees, and

 Jill Tarter—she’s from SETI, The Search

for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—

and music from people like Brian May, lead guitarist

from Queen and also an astrophysicist, plus astronauts,

cosmonauts, and 12 Nobel Laureates, all

gathered to honor Stephen Hawking,

who I’d have loved to meet, but once there,

I knew the book I thought would be my manifesto,

The Messenger & The Skeptic, still wasn’t ready,

so I stayed to learn about today’s cutting edge science,

but hardly spoke to anyone, except, I did take a selfie

with Kip Thorne, this brilliant physicist and a sweetie,

the way he posed with anyone who asked him to.


I slipped my business card into his shirt pocket,

and said it might be important to him someday,

but he probably threw it away, like I assume

 Jill Tarter did, too. She’s the other

scientist I talked to, stammered actually,

about having a cosmic breakthrough in ’76

which made me think I’d eventually write

in a way to validate for scientists my reality,

and how I felt near that goal lately, although

 with years like drops in the cosmic bucket,

I might still have decades to go!”


“You told her that?” Majida asked.


 I nodded.


“And what did she say?”


“She said, ‘Maybe it was a self-

fulfilling prophecy,’ which reminded me

of my therapist in ’78, before I left New York,

calling my breakthrough ‘a religious experience,’

and when I replied that it felt like more than that,

he snapped, ‘Everything’s more with you. Okay,

then call it cosmic consciousness!’ He suggested

 I read a book from 1901 with the same name,

Cosmic Consciousness, which I found

in the library…but that’s old news to you,”

I said, exchanging smiles with Majida,

glad she was willing to listen, needing

to share my experience out loud, to hear

what it sounded like to my own ear.


“From Tenerife, I flew to Madrid,

 then took a train from Spain via Zurich

to Bern, in Switzerland, to visit where

Einstein lived in 1905, when he published

The Theory of Special Relativity.

I wanted to look out his window

at the clock tower that inspired him,

but my view was blocked by a crane

hoisting crates to the fifth floor next door!”


I showed her photos on my iphone, and

continued, sharing what I’d seen and thought

in Bern and afterwards, at CERN, near Geneva,

where The Large Hadron Collider smashes particles,

and being a guide at AZ’s Kitt Peak Observatory

got me okayed for two tours in one day,

both with guides kind enough to wear

 my lapel mic, so I heard about what

physicists think today.” I caught

Majida eyeing her cell phone.

“Should I stop?”



“No, please. Sorry. I thought it might

be business. Please, go on,” Majida said,

and I did, with highlights from CERN

then from my train ride to Arles,

in Southern France, “where I assumed

“I went mainly to see Van Gogh’s skies,”

his paintings always resonating with me.”


“Did they look like he painted?” Majida asked.


 “It was cloudy! No sun during the days.

 No stars during both nights.”


 “Bummer,” said Majida.


“Actually, Arles turned out great.

“I got taken out to dinner by Ivora, an Italian

filmmaker, who’d interviewed me on Skype about

 the radical film group I belonged to in the 60s, 

and was in Arles with her girlfriend, Maria,

a deaf mute—Maria’s term—

for the town’s annual photo show.”


 “I love coincidences like that.”


“Me, too!” I said, flashing on how much

they guide me, coincidences,

 and allegories.


“Once we figured out how to communicate,

with Maria signing to Ivora who spoke into

my mic, then signed my reply back to Maria,

and so on, our talk at that noisy café—while

 marching bands played and people cheered on France

 in the major Euro 2016 soccer match against Portugal

showing on our square’s huge TV screen—

seemed the real reason I’d felt

I had to go to Arles.”


“Glad it all worked out.

And you got to Paris, too, right?”


“I went by train and stayed at this quaint

hotel in the 5th arrondissement, and saw hall

after hall of Impressionist paintings at D’Orsay,

but even better was exploring The Musee

Des Arts et Metier, a science museum

I never wanted to leave.”


I stopped, remembering how I

felt sorry for myself being alone,

but resigned to what had to be, none

distracting me from my journey.

I thought of those gray-haired Parisian

Women, too, lugging shopping carts down

cobbled streets, now more my peers than in ’75,

when in Paris I realized I was officially depressed,

because I saw an old, ugly hag in every mirror I passed,

yet still got compliments on how I looked, telling me

I was not in control of my mind, that being a year

before my cosmic breakthrough, as if I needed

 to go through whatever I went through, before

I could preview a new mental state.


“Sounds like a great trip,” Majida said,

interrupting my reverie.


 “Yes, but nobody saw my book!”

I feigned a pout,

baffled by my cosmic fake out.

Why fly from Tucson to Tenerife,

only to realize I’d made a mistake?


Are there really ever any mistakes?


 “Maybe you’ll give it to them next year.”


 “Maybe,” I repeated, maybe

being all I could say, my mission

not complete, and my promises

not totally mine to keep.



*   *   *

By the next summer, after receiving

a persuasive brainstorm to have my artist

daughter add her edgy drawings to my words,

I thought Messenger good enough to self-publish

a short run for my family, friends, and anyone I met

who I sensed might ‘get’ it, especially scientists,

not that any contacted me, and I had to sigh

 at readers praising the clever art and verse,

as if they only read the surface text.

Unsure what to try next,

I skipped Starmus IV in 2017.


Nonetheless, I wanted to send Messenger

to Stephen Hawking, and while composing

the perfect letter—so he’d give my book

his undivided attention, enjoy

the cosmic joke at the end,

 sense its source discoverable,

and want to be my friend, I saw

a CNN flash on my iPhone, Physicist

Stephen Hawking Dies At 76.


Damn, I thought, letting

a curse slip, lonelier than ever

on this rocky 4.5 billion year rocket ship.

And though I regret not meeting Stephen,

I keep plugging away, and it’ll be good to brunch

with Majida again, hear about her latest trip

and share my most recent strategy

for tracking down my own kind,

those born to be set free

 to connect cosmically.



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