building the rest of the world

ripples, or a Zen rock garden
the atom at the center

because we began
in the same star, light-

years ago, falling
(sometimes fall still)

but these rooms of reality
small (rocks, again)

catch us, safe
when we want to float free

Inspired by passages from Alan Lightman’s book Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine, pp. 53 and 55.



what is the spirit? how you felt
exhilarated in the rain and wind
that one time, you were ten
and traveling, you knew
actual magic
you must bring it
the yoga teacher says
no one else can
find those places
of either hurt or release
in ancient Greek, I’m told
pneuma, verily only
the stuff of life
which blows
over all our heads
true dark skies last summer
Milky Way and eclipsed sun

beyond earth’s wind
beyond need for meaning



watching the neighbors

dreaming crabapple, pomegranate-bright
paired cardinals, redbud, tulips bobbing
in tattered sunlight—I see people—
outside!—discussing the trim of a tree


how nothing in pendant birch-pods
questing tendril peas nor even flight of bees
suggests an asteroid skimming past
only five times farther than the moon


…but it happened…asteroid info here.


We want to be left alone

studying the starlight—
in our search for habitable worlds
we don’t yet know the mass
or what they’re made of.

In our search for habitable worlds,
compelling clouds may be
what they’re made of;
or a small, dark circle on reddish ball.

Compelling clouds may be
practically in our backyard
with a small, dark circle on reddish ball
(the dimming sun).

Practically in our backyard,
fixed in the sky,
the dimming sun
shows a transiting planet.

Fixed on the sky,
we don’t yet know: this mass
shows a transiting planet
studying our starlight.


A pantoum of found phrases from this article on the discovery of “3 strange worlds” and this article about today’s transit of Mercury. Yeah Write’s weekly prompt is “We want to be left alone.”

Urban Starlight

These dusty ancestors: a matter of faith
when only the brightest still show up
to pierce the tattered clouds, the streetlight haze
tired and perfunctory compared to the blaze
of their mythical glory. They’ve been at it
eons, pulsing dreaming guiding
but now we spin these wheels to power
the night and can offer them retirement
close the book on their song
of glittering mystery


Urban (blank) prompt from Poetic Asides.


Wide prairie with a single tree

(add in your paint-blue sky
or cloud-dotted
or billowed with stormy gray
to the west
purple slashed from noon to night)

Wide prairie with a single tree

(make it a cottonwood, leaf shimmer
with a lonely farm—how small!
beside the lake
and give the lake a sunset glint
or a midday dazzle
and a few ducks or geese
or raucous scores of them among the reeds
cranes and herons, blackbirds
a finch?)

Wild prairie with a single tree

(strokes of swaying grasses
more than pronghorn-high
or covering the wheels of the covered wagon
the weary horses’ flanks
sweep it with flowers
purple, golden, red
or make it flattened, winter-scoured
with snow or sleet or death in the wind)

Wide prairie with a single tree

(have you found it yet
under the black, star-streamed sky
or why are you still here)

the imperfect is our paradise

our patch of sky
alive with dust distant
particles signal-bounce
the old stellar question—
(how much does the universe weigh)
days/nights we youngsters
learn to navigate
these heavens
all at sea all
over again

Musing over/playing with different inspirations: this article about radio bursts from distant space and this article about naval navigation. Title borrowed from this article about spelling.

Beginning with Babylon, Astronomy

The ancients tracked the planet-dance with math
and covered tablets thick with scrawls—this clay
preserved through ages demonstrates a path
of human knowledge rising to the day
when heaven is brought close, in stars’ array
of light and shadow, pattern: beauty known
and not for what it gives (a way to pray,
an edge in war or increase in what’s grown).

We judge the past from here, the crowning stone—
enlightenment! But wait. We must relearn
as infants (age to age, and each alone)
compassion, mercy, patience and concern;
for we can match the ancients in their greed,
in fear and violence, desire and need.

Inspired by this article, my ideas were less fuzzy and pretentious before I tried putting them into a Spenserian sonnet for the Yeah Write poetry slam.