1634 c/o Eric Beeny

The Heliocentrist

Galileo drops small things off his balcony onto people’s heads as they pass by his villa in Florence, then he hides behind the stone railing.

Tiny pebbles, rare coins, water balloons.

One guy, Galileo drops a bowling ball on his head and it sinks into his skull like a cake.

The guy looks up at Galileo and yells something in Latin, but Galileo can’t understand him.

Galileo tries seeing the guy's eyes through the dark caves of the bowling ball’s finger holes, but it’s too dark in there.

Galileo just waves the guy on and the guy wobbles down to Galileo’s neighbor’s house, knocks on the door.

A few days later Galileo makes a yo-yo out of a large pulley and a strand of silk.

Galileo practices off the balcony when no one's looking.

* * *

Galileo observes small things through his telescope as the planet he lives on revolves somewhere in space.

He doesn’t think God gives a shit if humans think the Earth is where they think it is, whether or not it’s in the middle of everything.

He goes up to the roof of his villa in Florence and looks at the stars, imagines those small things falling on his head.

Galileo wishes it was his birthday, but for that he’d need a cake with candles to blow out, and since it’s not his birthday he doesn’t have that.

He doesn’t know what he’d wish for other than that it be his birthday, and that he’d once again be young enough to not have to appreciate it.

Galileo’s not sure how small the stars he’s observing are, but he knows they’re far away, and he thinks that must mean something big.

He thinks about what Ptolemy or Copernicus would've thought if Ptolemy or Copernicus were both Galileo thinking they were him.

Galileo watches from his roof, and something moves in the sky, a shooting star, a gash opening the darkness and the darkness healing back in on itself.

“What do these things have in common with my perception of them?” he thinks out loud.

“They both exist,” one of his servants yells up to him from a window below.

“Ah, horseshit,” Galileo says. “You’ve been cooped up inside too long.”

* * *

Galileo can’t sleep.

He has a hernia.

He lies in bed with his eyes closed, grinding his teeth.

He scratches his shoulder, his thigh.

Galileo becomes a star, his theories solar flares.

Controversy revolves around him.

He thinks big thoughts.

Solar system.

The Pope.


Galileo wishes he'd invented the Pope.

Galileo wants to invent a new God, his own God.

Maybe lots of Gods.

God of balconies and God of pebbles, God of stars and God of telescopes, God of bakers and God of cake, God of bowling balls and God of water balloons, God of sleep.

Galileo gets out of bed, looks out the window, the sun shaping with soft light the horizon like a cracked glow stick.

He nails his blanket from one wall to another so it’s suspended in the air, and he puts a bowling ball on the blanket, and the middle of the blanket sinks under the weight of it, the blanket tearing a bit on the nails.

Galileo rolls water balloons onto the blanket and they wiggle in orbit around the bowling ball.

The Earth revolves around the sun.

The sun rising, it’s just the Earth revolving somewhere.

Galileo sends his servant out for more water balloons.

Galileo's eyesight is failing.

When the sun comes up, Galileo will get drunk and cover the window with his blanket, light candles all around his room and sit in the corner squinting with an inquisitive look on his face while the room spins all around him.