By D. Kaufman.

Prince André and Napoleon Bonapart, from Sergei Bondarchuk’s film, War and Peace (Война и мир, 1967)

(To Maxwell; on War and Peace)

I wish I could tell you to hang in there but it’s a façade;
With my defective myopic retina
All I see is Archimedean formulae
In Natasha’s small round breasts.

Ceteris paribus the 21st-century
(I have a toothache, so I’m a prophet of doom):

I’m living in a dark age where all conclusions are statistics;
One hundred and forty years gone by since he had written it
And all that really changed is how we spell it:
The integration metaphor was replaced by the Null hypothesis
(I hope I didn’t just give away the ending).

I read the news
I’m trying to follow:
Theology was reduced to the politics
of the weak anthropic principle
by an emeritus Lucasian professor
So I give myself a glamorous raison d’être:
That I am an autonomous anti-entropic agent
And then I laugh and I despair
Because wives get fat
And there’s depression
And cancer
And I really don’t know what comfort it is to know
That we were made in the image the universe
It’s like the absolute zero on the spiritual Kelvin scale.

I wish I could say I’ve seen what Pierre had,
That I understood all that peasant wisdom,
But all I really see is Hélène:
Women in black stockings.