Saturday, October 4, 2014

Poetry about Planets and Space: Playlist for October 3, 2014

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST OF THIS PROGRAM



“Roll on, sad world! not Mercury or Mars”


By  Frederick Goddard Tuckerman 


from Sonnets, Second Series




                      XVII


Roll on, sad world! not Mercury or Mars




Could swifter speed, or slower, round the sun,




Than in this year of variance thou hast done




For me. Yet pain, fear, heart-break, woes, and wars




Have natural limit; from his dread eclipse




The swift sun hastens, and the night debars




The day, but to bring in the day more bright;




The flowers renew their odorous fellowships;




The moon runs round and round; the slow earth dips,




True to her poise, and lifts; the planet-stars




Roll and return from circle to ellipse;




The day is dull and soft, the eave-trough drips;




And yet I know the splendor of the light




Will break anon: look! where the gray is white!








Seeing the Eclipse in Maine 


By  Robert Bly  






It started about noon.  On top of Mount Batte,  




We were all exclaiming.  Someone had a cardboard  




And a pin, and we all cried out when the sun  




Appeared in tiny form on the notebook cover.  






It was hard to believe.  The high school teacher  




We’d met called it a pinhole camera,  




People in the Renaissance loved to do that.  




And when the moon had passed partly through  






We saw on a rock underneath a fir tree,  




Dozens of crescents—made the same way—  




Thousands!  Even our straw hats produced  




A few as we moved them over the bare granite.  






We shared chocolate, and one man from Maine  




Told a joke.  Suns were everywhere—at our feet.










Gravity 


By  John Frederick Nims 






Mildest of all the powers of earth: no lightnings




For her—maniacal in the clouds. No need for




Signs with their skull and crossbones, chain-link gates:




Danger! Keep Out! High Gravity! she’s friendlier.




Won’t nurse—unlike the magnetic powers—repugnance;




Would reconcile, draw close: her passion’s love.






No terrors lurking in her depths, like those




Bound in that buzzing strongbox of the atom,




Terrors that, lossened, turn the hills vesuvian,




Trace in cremation where the cities were.






No, she’s our quiet mother, sensible.




But therefore down-to-earth, not suffering




Fools who play fast and loose among the mountains,




Who fly in her face, or, drunken, clown on cornices.






She taught our ways of walking. Her affection




Adjusted the morning grass, the sands of summer




Until our soles fit snug in each, walk easy.




Holding her hand, we’re safe. Should that hand fail,




The atmosphere we breathe would turn hysterical,




Hiss with tornadoes, spinning us from earth




Into the cold unbreathable desolations.






Yet there—in fields of space—is where she shines,




Ring-mistress of the circus of the stars,




Their prancing carousels, their ferris wheels




Lit brilliant in celebration. Thanks to her




All’s gala in the galaxy.






                                   Down here she




Walks us just right, not like the jokey moon




Burlesquing our human stride to kangaroo hops;




Not like vast planets, whose unbearable mass




Would crush us in a bear hug to their surface




And into the surface, flattened. No: deals fairly.




Makes happy each with each: the willow bend




Just so, the acrobat land true, the keystone




Nestle in place for bridge and for cathedral.




Let us pick up—or mostly—what we need:




Rake, bucket, stone to build with, logs for warmth,




The fallen fruit, the fallen child . . . ourselves.






Instructs us too in honesty: our jointed




Limbs move awry and crisscross, gawky, thwart;




She’s all directness and makes that a grace,




All downright passion for the core of things,




For rectitude, the very ground of being:




Those eyes are leveled where the heart is set.






See, on the tennis court this August day:




How, beyond human error, she’s the one




Whose will the bright balls cherish and obey




—As if in love. She’s tireless in her courtesies




To even the klutz (knees, elbows all a-tangle),




Allowing his poky serve Euclidean whimsies,




The looniest lob its joy: serene parabolas.














Man in Space


By  Billy Collins  






All you have to do is listen to the way a man




sometimes talks to his wife at a table of people




and notice how intent he is on making his point




even though her lower lip is beginning to quiver,






and you will know why the women in science




fiction movies who inhabit a planet of their own




are not pictured making a salad or reading a magazine




when the men from earth arrive in their rocket,






why they are always standing in a semicircle




with their arms folded, their bare legs set apart,




their breasts protected by hard metal disks.







From Space 


By  Katharine Coles  






You are smaller than I remember




And so is the house, set downhill




Afloat in a sea of scrub oak. From up here




It’s an ordinary box with gravel






Spread over its lid, weighting it, but




Inside it’s full of shadows and sky.




Clouds pull themselves over dry




Grass, which, if  I’m not mistaken, will erupt






Any minute in flame. Only




A spark, a sunbeam focused. From up




Here, enjoying the view, I can finally




Take you in. Will you wave back? I keep






Slingshotting around. There’s gravity




For you, but all I ever wanted was to fly










Despina, Moon of Neptune


By Christine Klocek-Lim






She said she’d rather sing alone


than perform for some random guy,


but then Voyager 2 flew by,


eyes trained on her curved form


like a desperate man (the kind


whose lady walked away forever).


He just didn’t know when to look aside. 


She said she tried to hide, quiet her light


against her father’s blue sky, but the lens


found her four times. She gave up


silence for fame, gave up space


and time, until the sun finally fell


down across the steely horizon.


Her father Neptune didn’t seem to care


and that was what hurt her most.


The galaxy beyond everything she knew


was so much less infinite than she’d hoped.


The camera took what he wanted


and left. Despina endured the scrutiny


of a thousand careless eyes—




In the end, she would only wear white,


the color of purity, and not even the dark


could get her to sing anymore.





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