Poetry | Issue 2 (October 2023)

Rules are Rules—Until Necessity Intercedes

Bob King

Because we really wanted to know

what makes her tick, we recently

drilled a hole 2 miles deep into Earth

over the San Andreas Fault & one of

the engineers on the project, Neal,

suggested we get a really long wick

from ACME & light this sucker as if

a stink bomb tossed into the BOYS john

so they’d have no choice but to cancel

the fast-approaching final exam. In the

least, we’d get a recess they weren’t

planning to give. That Neal. There’s

one in every group, am I right?

I mean, we know the fault is there,

we know there are faults in us, like

maybe a cracked heel bone, & wouldn’t

this be like using your DeWalt Hammer

Drill to inspect that fracture instead of

an X-Ray machine? It’s like we invent

slowly, then all at once, then begin to

misuse or even abuse or forget those

tools. We’re always forgetting what

got us here & what we’re doing to

hasten our exits. Someone else suggested

we keep going, we drill the whole way

through: we lick our lips & squint our

eyes & thread a fishing line through,

adding a cool, if overused, paisley bead

to the ultimate friendship bracelet,

perhaps for Zeus’ fast-approaching

birthday, even if we’ve lost track

of how old he is. Despite what Neal

suggested, the deepest hole drilled

into the ground was not named

Your Mother, said in a terrible

Scottish accent, which led to other

terrible Sean Connery & Alex Trebek

& Will Ferrell impressions. When

impressions supersede the original,

when we’ve dreamt of, but not yet

invented a sustainable replacement

we only get comic caricatures—where

did you come from, Burt Reynolds

in an enormous cowboy hat? Yes,

we understand it’s funny because

it’s oversized, outsized this prized

jewel of chemistry, geology, &

astrophysics, but back to what

I was saying—the deepest hole

drilled into the crust only went

about 7½ miles in, & the plan was

to get a giant syringe to suck out

all the good carbon filling. Or was it

to inject some blueberry ganache?

What if Earth’s entire crust, the entire

25 miles deep of it, 25 miles deep

times the circumference containing

all the known life in the universe,

25 miles of rock & water, sand

& plants, people & their particulates,

was replaced with blueberries? How

many do you suspect we’d need?

And while you’re at it, can you

also calculate what exactly necessity

herself needs in order to intercede?



Inspired by Operation Shylock: A Confession by Philip Roth (1993), Crack in the Edge of the World: America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 by Simon Winchester (2005), & SNL, Season 25, “Celebrity Jeopardy,” 1999.

Bob King is an Associate Professor of English at Kent State University at Stark. His poetry collection And & And is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Narrative Magazine, & Olney Magazine. He lives in Fairview Park, Ohio, with his wife & daughters.