Regular Poem: Angle of Repose

29 Apr

learned a new phrase today
that will inevitably
pop up in my brain in the future
and bang around for a few weeks
with a lot of self-reflection and metaphor attached to it

maybe i can nip it in the bud
and deal with it now
and mercifully forget about it
i doubt that
but it’s worth a try

angle of repose:
the steepest angle at which a certain granule can be stacked
with others of like kind before sliding

i’ve spent a lot of time driving
the kansas countryside
seeing big piles of wheat or beans or sand or rock or whatever
just out in the open
sometimes on a tarp sometimes on a burnt stretch of field
sometimes covered by a tarp sometimes just beholden to breeze and precipitation

and i have wondered about that
angle of repose
but never had the terminology for it
until a few hours ago

i guess you see it in anthills too
and molehills
any hill
any dirt will do

what is too much atmospheric pressure
what is too much weight
before collapse
and is it a collapse so much as a reconfiguration

more interesting than the angle of repose might be
the cirumference of the pile
how does the pile get into such a perfect circle
or perfect cone as it were

it’s all about angles and pi and force and gravity
i suppose
physics
which i never took in school
but i like the idea of it

i think my personality was wasted in a number of ways
both ways of my own making
and ways outside my control

i could’ve probably been a very good theoretical mathematician
or at the very least pop science writer
and i could’ve taken steps to have chosen that but didn’t
i also would’ve been a very effective mean big sister to somebody but that wasn’t my fault
and i would’ve been so so good at being a quack “doctor” in the 1890s or so but that wasn’t my fate either

angle of repose though
such a romantic little phrase
sounds like how many pillows an elegant lady needs for optimal comfort lying on a chaise

maybe not romantic maybe bleak
sounds like how much one must fold oneself and twist oneself to fit into a prescribed role so that there’s not so much societal friction

sounds like a lot of things
sounds good–
the sounds themselves that is
a very pleasing phrase
that feels good to say
opens up the mouth in a lot of ways–
and yet its meaning is about a closing
a cap a limit

nope
i certainly haven’t dealt with it thoroughly enough for it to not sprout again soon
it will be back to haunt me
the next time i’m climbing a grain bin
or even driving past one
or perhaps just drinking a baja blast with a completely empty mind

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