American Numerology by Stephen Bunch

American Numerology


A Mayan epoch, cards
in a deck, weeks
in a year, the atomic
weight of chromium,
not the Korean chrome
on the straight-eight
Pontiac, not the atomic
weight on Eniwetok,
while Nixon played
Checkers. Eisenhower’s
first, Lucy’s first, no
lynchings for the first
time since 1882,
but shortly Boeing’s
bombers excavating Vietnam,
back to the stone age, ivories
pounded, all the white
notes, shaking that love
shack, baby, the hexagram
that directs, “Keep still, no
blame,” shuffle and deal.


It’s a short drive to Whitman’s
bridge from the Liberty Bell
but a long haul to cheese-steak
independence, a declaration
of trombones on parade
in the hinterlands.
Longer still for Halley’s ellipse,
two countdown steps
from heaven, when homo
erectus intersected
string theory, and a nuclear peanut
farmer lusted in his heart
and said so. All the way,
the four-lane’s lined with signs
bearing freedom’s number,
promising petroleum
and clean restrooms forever.

49 (for Joy)

In Petaluma, poultry
emerged from Sutter’s golden
egg. Rushing miners modeled
Levi’s. A century later,
Hiroshima plus four, mon
amour, seven squared,
booming, genes
photogenic, we were born.

by Stephen Bunch

Editor’s Note: Humans have been enumerating significant events and places into history for eons, yet still do not quite have a grasp on the ephemeral nature of our own creation. In this series, America the great might just well be as significant as an egg that arrived within an arbitrary year.


5 responses to “American Numerology by Stephen Bunch”

  1. Risa Denenberg Avatar

    These are great, Steve. I hope you’re writing a whole slew of them so I can buy the book.

    1. Steve Bunch Avatar

      Thanks, Risa. If three constitute a whole slew, then I’m good. This may be a project to which I return, but these were pretty much spontaneous. I’m not sure I could maintain that headlong rush.

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