The Idols of Twilight

Some turn metaphysicians at dusk. By imperceptible degrees, nightfall slowly obscured his room. He never bothered turning on the lights. A goldfish swam in its bowl: a boggle-eyed, diaphanous grotesque. The woozy, would-be metaphysician sipped his Jack and Coke. He swam in his thoughts, a space that likewise seemed too small. The water clouded; the curved edges not quite transparent, smudged in places, refractory of some diffuse, some backlit source. A few reconstituted flakes still floated on the surface. The metaphysician loosened his tie. One's Weltanschauung, he thought, reduces to a few abstractions—names, ciphers, symbols—which bind the myriad totality of things. Or, rather, of things-as-they-seem. Oh, to behold that noumenon beyond all nomination! But that was exactly what proved impossible. A sigh. A deep breath. He shook out the handkerchief crumpled in his suit pocket. He blew his nose. He stared at the mucus, stringy and greenish. Indeed, certainly not much more exists inside one's head than what's without. He tried to look at the goldfish again, but by now evening had cast the room's bare white walls in a leavening of gloom, and his eyes hardly had had the time to adjust. He caught a few gleams, a dull flash which he assumed to be scales of that overbred and ornamental fish circling in its bowl. A dull flash—it was all he'd perceived. It was all he'd been given. A brief shine in the dark. It was all in his head. Metaphysician, heal thyself.

Mr. Figure Stargazes on a Clear Night

The uncertain glint of distant stars at dusk. Their tiny glitch of radiance trembled in the atmospheric impurities after journeying across the vast cosmic vacuum. Each star swam upward in the eye's own milky vision. Mr. Figure pondered the nature of the universe. Quantum teleportation, at least theoretically, enables information to travel faster than the speed of light, although the speed of light might not be a true constant after all. It was possible that the fundamental reality of the cosmos was purely the interactions of various scalar fields. Mr. Figure tried imagining his consciousness as a conflux of various space-time perturbations. He observed the fireflies mating, an owl swooping soundlessly down for its prey. He looked upward again, focusing on one watery and winking star. That star—that star low on the horizon, just above the silhouette of trees—that far-gone datum. It flashed strangely and vanished. It flickered again. O, music of the spheres: celestial orbits and bittersweet fires lost in the sweep of interstellar eons! Bright star frozen in the lonely limits of space. All the starlight died on his retina. Mr. Figure was always gazing into the vast laboratory of the past. Well, even the bats swooping over his head were quite mysterious. Then again, perhaps he was mistaken. Could that star, that presumptive, presumptuous star, in fact, be the reflected glory of Venus? A satellite, a firefly?


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Will Cordeiro has work appearing or forthcoming in Best New Poets, Copper Nickel, Crab Orchard Review, Nashville Review, Poetry Northwest, The Threepenny Review, Zone 3, and elsewhere. He lives in Flagstaff, where he teaches in the Honors College at Northern Arizona University.

Darla Mottram