The Uncertainty Principle


April 2001



In The Uncertainty Principle, Bill Mayer lures us into the rich physicality of a desire that not only animates the features upon the mask of the real, but enlarges our yearning for what lies behind. Many of these poems take as subject the encounters of the poet during an extended stay on the island of Paros in Greece. They demonstrate how language that intentionally draws little attention to itself can reflect the subtlest occlusions and luminosities of experience.

Bill Mayer’s poems offer his nakedly honest struggle between the voice of the ego and the hazy ghost like images of the spirit emerging. His is the most heroic journey of all. He is willing to follow his longing, the irresistible drawing towards of the self that for him the culture of ancient Greece was all about. I find his poems intelligent, personal and deeply courageous, a welcome support and contribution to the journey that we all ultimately travel, that of finding ourselves at the deepest level.

Tony Keppelman

About the Author

Bill Mayer has traveled widely, spending extended time in Vermont, England, Greece, Hawaii, Germany, France, Italy, and Austria. He is also a professional photographer and importer of German and Austrian wine. His first book, Longing, was published by Pangaea Press in 1991. He lives in Berkeley.
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Trees. Snow. Trees further away.
In the gray light, they are as pasted on a board,
the snow merely empty white, the further away
just smaller trees. This is theory.

I go out to the white fields pretending
not to be human. Then stop, wonder what it is
I attempt, or mimic. I flounder in the snow,
falling through the crust.
The spirit beyond human doesn’t carry much interest.
There is choice here: a god whose skin shines,
or a hollow in a bank.

It is not a matter of cruelty; just that,
swinging his arms, he knocks a man down.
He does not even notice until after.
Then he grieves.

In the darkness he burns snow into the photograph.
Too much light will make it drab; too little
and it remains empty. He works until late,
changing papers, exposures, chemicals,
going over it again and again.

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