He wore a slightly rumpled shirt,
its placket buttoned off by one
so a triangle of cloth flapped loose
over his belt buckle. It struck me
this was possibly a studied move
meant to indicate joie de vivre.
He set his coffee down with a clack,
sat in the chair opposite and said,
“How would you like to be a zero

in a world of ones,” and he paused
like that after the zero, for effect
yet did not wait to see what effect
this tidbit of drama would generate
before plunging forward in what was
either intellectual vigor or arrogance:

“As a zero in the Arabic numeral system
you could increase by tenfold the value
of any one you chose to stand beside.
And as a zero in a binary world of ones
you would quite literally contain
within the orb of your nothingness
half of all the instrumental information
needed to reduce the world’s chaos
into straightforward propositions.”

He smiled broadly and settled back
in his chair to await the response,
and that is when I slowly raised
my revolver level with his chest
to help him understand the world
is not in love with certainty.

Michael Bazzett

MICHAEL BAZZETT’s poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Massachusetts Review, Pleiades, Oxford Poetry, Hayden’s Ferry Review and Best New Poets. He is the author of The Imaginary City (Organic Weapon Arts, 2012) and The Unspoken Jokebook, forthcoming from Organic Weapon. His verse translation of the Popol Vuh is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two children.

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