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First Ned Kelly’s skull

then Pharlap’s mighty heart.

Phrenology and the history of morbid awe.

Next to be purloined

for purposes of research was Einstein’s brain,

(plus his eyeballs

given as a present to Albert’s ophthalmologist).

The hypothesis of the current study posits the question: Why?

Supposition: Because.



With a saw.

Back and forth until the cranium popped.

Cause of death: a burst aorta.

Taken straight from the autopsy by Dr Thomas Harvey

realising who it was on the slab

and what an opportunity this might mean for science.

The brain weighing an ordinary three pounds (approx)

was kept in a pickling jar

in a cider box

under a Budweiser beer cooler

in Tom Harvey’s basement

for twenty-three years.

Harvey’s wife laid down an ultimatum,

it’s either me or the brain.

He chose the brain.



Forensically dissected into 240 pieces

the brain became an even bigger jigsaw.

Sent out on slides to labs across the country

they counted the neurons, glia, sulci, gyri

only to find (inconclusively) there were lots.

The musical cortex, admittedly, larger.

That’s what ten hours sleep a night

plus eating grasshoppers will do

which Einstein did.



He published nothing, Harvey.

Gave away slices of it to casual fans.

Did not sell it to the military who wanted it

in order to defeat the Russians

themselves collecting brains of their own.

Lost his medical practitioner’s licence.

Found work in a plastics factory in Wichita.

Eventually returned to Princeton,

the brain in a tub in the trunk of his car,

not so much at the speed of light,

more the speed of a Buick Skylark

in heavy traffic, all things being relative.



Taciturn iconoclast.

Harvey behind the wheel

getting too old to care for it now,

wanting to donate it back.

Still listening for what the silence

of the brain might have to tell him,

what esoteric secrets of the universe

hopefully not in German which, like the nurse

who misheard Einstein’s dying words,

Harvey did not speak.