Inspiration is Where You Find It

You know the drill. You’re late. You drop your egg into the pan and ruin breakfast, spill your coffee.


You ask the question. You know the question I mean.


Who the hell knows? Maybe there’s a lesson in it. Maybe it’s random. Maybe there’s a Loving Divine All-Powerful All-Knowing Supreme Being who really likes to fuck with you.

Maybe it’s a toolbox. Build something from the disaster.

Take, for example, my  ear buds. I have these great Grain Audio ear buds. Love them. Best 99 bucks I ever spent. I listen to music, audio books, everything. They’re comfortable and sound great. They even come with a snappy little pouch.

But the problem is that whenever I set them down, they tangle. And not just tangle. They turn into a fucking Matthew Walker Knot.

Why? Why? I just set the damned things on the desk. If I spend twenty minutes I couldn’t make them tangle that much. It’s like when Goofy is a Vaquero and throws a bola around the legs of an ostrich.


I got to thinking about this. I looked into it. Entropy. Why do cords always, always tangle?

There is a reason. A long, long, boring reason. And when I see long boring shit, I try to write a poem about it. You know, because of… I don’t know. Gluten.

So here’s the goddamned poem. I almost lost this one when I accidentally deleted my entire poetry database, but it turns out I had emailed it and still had a version.  Sometimes catastrophes can be avoided.



Spontaneous Knotting of an Agitated String


A measure of knot complexity

is the number of minimum

crossings that must occur

when a knot is viewed

as a two-dimensional


According to calculation

(yours, or anyone’s)

there are more tangled states than untangled

states. Thousands at least,  when you shove

your headphones into your pocket

ready, now , to listen

It took nothing for your cord

which is just another string

to achieve a tangled state

though you do not know it yet.

Entropy unnoticed

until, five seconds later

A string can be knotted

in many possible ways,

and a primary concern

of knot theory is to formally distinguish

and classify

all possible knots.

Oh how you swore, pulling

as you picked the twisted wires

with your fingertips

from the pocket

of your too-tight pants

worn by people half your age

you act like

it’s  a personal affront

this tangled inconvenience

how can something so simple

so quickly turn

into such a fucking mess

96% of all knots formed as known prime knots

having minimum crossing numbers

ranging from 3 to 11.

The prevalence of prime knots

is rather surprising,

because they are not

the only possible type of knot.

You succeed, finally

cram your fingers

deep in your ears

the tiny speakers

full of all that music

the soundtrack only you hear

I watch you leave

watch the floor

where your shadow was

I know you absolutely

are right or wrong. Everything is

personal or nothing is.


Italicized text copyright 2007  Dorian M. Raymer  and Douglas E. Smith 

1 comment

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  1. Mike Fuller Author

    My child bride bought me the “Dr. Dre” headphone buds. I’m not a rap music fan but they are fantastic for sending CSN and Jackson Browne into the writing pool betwen the buds. They even do a solid to Stevie Ray Vaughn and Clapton but those guitars would sound good coming through an old 60’s transistor radio.

    They don’t seem to tangle too badly. If they are reluctant to come apart I just shout, “Run! Biggie Smalls’ crew comin’ down the hall!” and they seem to just drop into place.

Don't just stand there.