A N N E X    P R E S S    2 0 1 5

TOM MANDEL    THE GIVEN OBSERVER

The mental gestures I

learned young sew my

known. 6 is the limit.

Nothing folds 7 times

not even a question

mark we lay across

the 8-fold path upon

which a “given ob-

server” rolls to study

the few things time

agrees to teach. Will

science inflate his

wheel? In a Honda at

midnight 4 guys fetch

me from the Karachi

airport. As we drive

where I’m staying I

gaze out the window

into crowded streets

where bathed in its


red chiaroscuro light

crowds move through

the night, its heat, in

every direction & I

see in each person a

soul of momentum

threading within a

whole I can’t know.

Seated on its motor-

bike a family hurtles

by – Mother, Father

& 2 kids (a tiny dog

in 1 child’s arms) as

if poised on 2 wheels

propelled by a din of

concurrent urgencies

renewed unceasingly

around them: his fists

gripping handlebars

bars the Father’s eyes

fix on a chosen route

(for action alone will

engage chaos while

attention & intention

struggle for focus) as

in a silence afforded

their minds by the

motorbike’s familiar

clamor the others gaze

on the tumult of cars

bikes & painted buses

crossing their course

repeatedly to threaten

collisions only happen-

stance elides & mean-

while in a Honda his

eyes closed a “given

observer” dreams the

dice rolling all these

lives back to chance.