Two Poems by Paul Dickey


Only Another Mystery of Love and Death

The rain last night, I swear, went tick tock,

tick tock. Of all things not to understand.

We know how rain is supposed to sound –

harmonize with percussion of thunderstorms,

or its harp tell us that all is okay.  We got up,

roamed the house to find where this was

coming from. Was it Quine or Wittgenstein

who said that truth was just a different language?

Didn’t Aunt Rebecca say some things, dear,

are not there to get explained?  In the den,

Rumi advised us only love can explain love.

The sound stopped.  A rain we knew started. I held

all the angles of your body until you felt like air.






Zeno's Pep Talk at the Special Olympics

The sports psychologist from the Green Bay Packers in the Nike sweats was positive. Picture yourself a winner, he said. Develop that photograph in your mind over and over. The cup is either half full or half empty. Only you can decide that it is half full. Someone has to win. It might as well be you. He grinned from ear to ear like a hare. The boys asked for autographs. He obliged and then got in his Jag. He couldn’t stay for the boys’ race.


Coach Zeno, on the other hand, came out all negative. You think Achilles (or a hare) running at his best can catch a tortoise?  He got out his chalk. Consider. Starting at point S to reach the place P(n) where the tortoise was, Achilles would need to run to P(n) in some finite time, but meanwhile now the tortoise is at place P(n+1). Never mind how short the distance between P(n) and P(n+1) may be, it at least exists. Okay, now let Achilles run to place P(n+1), but the tortoise is now at P(n+2). And so on for an infinite number of iterations. Of course, an infinite number of anythings cannot be accomplished in a finite amount of time. Thus, Achilles can never catch the tortoise.


The fathers groaned.  Their boys have enough challenge, enough to overcome. They don’t need this crap.  The fathers wanted him out of the locker room, now.  So Zeno proved that motion is impossible. To go any distance, one must first go half of it. But then to get halfway, one must first travel half of halfway. And so on and so on. Don’t you see? One cannot run any distance, however small, without already running half of it.  He could not leave the locker room any more than any boy could even start to run in today’s race.


The fathers were furious. And so Zeno quietly explained, he had proven logically that a boy who cannot walk can win any race.






Paul Dickey received a master's degree in the Philosophy of Science at Indiana University.  His work has been published in Kansas Quarterly, Quartet, Poet Lore, Karamu, and Nimrod.   He withdrew from publishing his work for 20 some years to focus on family and business interests. Paul Dickey is the founder of Dickey Books, an online out-of-print bookstore.   Since the early days of the IBM PC, Dickey Books was a pioneer in applying the personal computer and, more recently, the world wide web to the rare and antiquarian book trade.