Compatibilist – Ken Babstock

Awareness was intermittent. It sputtered.
And some of the time you were seen
asleep.

So trying to appear whole
you asked of the morning: Is he free
who is not free from pain? It started to rain
a particulate alloy of flecked grey: the dogs

wanted out into their atlas of smells; to pee
where before they had peed, and might
well pee again – thought it isn’t

a certainty. What is? In the set,
called Phi, of all possible physical worlds
resembling this one, in which, at time t,

was written ‘Is he free who is not free – ‘
and comes the cramp. Do you want
to be singular, onstage, praised, or blamed? I watched a field of sun-
flowers dial their ruddy faces toward
what they needed and was good. At noon

they were chalices upturned, gilt-edged,
and I lived in that same light but felt
alone. I chose to phone my brother,

over whom I worried, and say so.
He whispered, lacked affect. He’d lost
my record collection to looming debt. I

forgave him – through weak connections,
through buzz and oceanic crackle –
immediately, without choosing to,

because it was him I hadn’t lost; and
later cried myself to sleep. In that village
near Dijon, called Valley of Peace,

a pond reflected its dragonflies
over a black surface at night, and
the nuclear reactor’s far-off halo

of green light changed the night sky
to the west. A pony brayed, stamping
a hoof on inlaid stone. The river’s reeds

lovely, but unswimmable. World death
on the event horizon; vigils with candles
in cups. I’ve mostly replaced my records,

and acted in ways I can’t account for.
Cannot account for what you’re about
to do. We should be held and forgiven