Why is today not yesterday,
Why am I I and you you?
Why is here not elsewhere,
Why does a period end a sentence
And would a sentence end otherwise
Or would it roll on endlessly,
Is it rolling on still?
Why does a pond ripple in a wind?
Why does a dog bark?
Why is music moving?
Why do I cry when someone’s
Kind for a moment
Even in a movie?
Why born, why die, why live another day,
Where come from, where going
Why and what for?
Does anything mean anything?
A word, a deed, a life?
What is meaning?
Who means it and why?
Why do flies
Appear suddenly from nowhere?
Do flies think?
How and about what?
About other flies? About food? Sex?
Can they be bored?
Large trout hovering
Facing upstream, waiting,
Do they think of a fly thinking of a fly?
Why does the water ouzel twitch?
Does it want something, does it know what or why?
Can bacteria, fidoplankton, amoeba, mites
Want or know or move or intend
Speak or see, decide or taste?
What does measure measure?
If small is smaller than large
Is larger larger than large, which makes large small
So large is small and small is large?
What is large larger than?
What could small or large
Refer to beyond each other
And wouldn’t that cancel out all scale
And where we would we be without scale?
Could we compare anything?
And if we can’t compare
Is there anything?
Why are you and I both “me” to ourselves
Though we refer to different people?
How is it we don’t get mixed up about this
Or are we mixed up about it
But we don’t know we are
And if we don’t know are we?
Does this matter?
To whom? You? Me?
Which you? Which me?
Do numbers exist anywhere?
Where? Do things?
What is language?
Does it do anything?
Where does it come from?
Why have we got it?
Are we the only ones?
Is language an organ, like a nose, but without flesh?
Does anything ever happen?
By chance, by design?
If design, must there be a designer?
What is design?
What is a word?
Is there anything but design?
Is there anything but words?
If there’s anything
By that fact
Already a word?
If not what then?
If so what problems have we solved?
What problems have we created?
Are there ever no problems?
What is a problem?
Is every thing a problem?
If we define a problem have we eliminated it?
So that knowing a problem is solving it
But not knowing a problem is having a problem
A problem we didn’t know we had
Other than the problem of our not knowing
Whether there were a problem
And is that a problem?
For you, for me? For some one?
Is someone anyone? Is no one?
How could there be no one
Anyway? And why ‘anyway’?
What way is that?
Everything must be some way
Never any way?
If something can’t be why can it be said?
If it’s said is it being by being said?
Like a chicken with lips or a Catholic rabbi?
Or a word without letters or sounds?
Where does household dirt come from?
Where does dead skin go to?
Who is holding past moments
Which appear to be nowhere now
But have existed before
And where are past moments kept
And how do we set them free
So they can reappear as they once were
And we could be now as we were then
And would we want that?
And how can we say that?
And how can we say it’s impossible?
If the past were released from wherever it’s kept
Temporarily in its own present
Would it interfere with the present present
Or prevent it from taking its rightful place
In a past that does not yet exist or does exist
Vacated temporarily from the past that takes its place
In the present which now is past?
Can we say such things, can we think them?
If so does this make them so?
Are we just expecting too much?
Why does water freeze at 32 degrees Fareinheit
In any nation in the world?
Why not sometimes
33 degrees or 50? Or 20?
Can we ask questions?
Will someone answer?
How will we know
The answer is correct?
What is ‘correct?’
If we know what is correct
Will we know what is not correct?
What is ‘not?’
Is it even possible to ask?
And if I can’t ask about ‘not’ can I askabout anything?
And if I can ask, what does the question mean?
In German? In Chinese?
Would it be the same? Different?
What’s the difference between ‘same’ and ‘different?’
Is it like ‘large’ and ‘small?’
What is death?
Is it the same as life?
(That is, if we could solve the problem of ‘same’
Or the problem of ‘problem’)
Why do they call a loom a loom, why not a spoke?
What is the smallest thing possible?
Whatever it is, why couldn’t there be something smaller?
How much difference is there between a fish eye and my eye?
Does a fish see what I see?
Do you see what I see?
Who are you? Who am I?
Why am I I and you you?
Why is today not yesterday?
And when today becomes yesterday
This poem appears in Norman Fischer, Questions/Places/Voices/Seasons (San Diego, CA: Singing Horse Press, 2009).