An Arbitrary Light Bulb

by Ian Duhig

Under Sewerby Hall’s Lantern of Demosthenes
I found a pebble the exact shape of a light bulb.
Then, suddenly, as if in one of my old Beanos,
another lit above my head in a thought bubble

trailing diminuendo echoes, like Little Plum’s
smoke signals, to my dull bulb of skull below
until they disappeared into that unplumbable
nothing where so many of my poem ideas go.

I sucked this stone like a pear drop in the hope
it might hatch a poem, or seed one, but so far
nothing worth the light, the idea’s bulb blown
to an abandoned oratory that never had a prayer.

I spat it out, but the hole it left was a gift to me
beyond all rhetoric to figure, or poetry to sing,
reminding me that shape was called an ‘arbitrary’:
an arbitrary light bulb, was the name of the thing.