forthcoming autumn 2015 – Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books
From the author:
This particular collection was written over the past seven years. All the poems are based on images from the Astronomy Picture of the Day website: APOD.
An earlier version of Dark Matter won the following prizes:
2009 Ellen La Forge Poetry Prize (formerly the Grolier Prize) for poems: “Star explodes halfway across universe,” “Saturn’s moon may have hidden seas,” “Smallest black hole found,” “How to search for aliens,” “Mysterious white rock fingers on Mars,” and “Three galaxies and a comet.”
2009 semi-finalist in the Philip Levine Prize in Poetry.
2009 semi-finalist in the University of Wisconsin Press Poetry Series, Brittingham and Pollak Poetry Prizes.
2009 semi-finalist for the Sawtooth Poetry Prize, Ahsahta Press, Boise State University.
2010 semi-finalist for the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award Competition.
Despina, moon of Neptune
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.
-first appeared in WMNR’s The Night Café, October 2014
Violent collision of stellar winds detected
You talk through the chronic sadness
of late Sunday, ignoring the sunlight
that slants over the new daffodils.
Tomorrow you will be gone to work
and I will be cleaning, both of us indifferent
to the violent collision of stellar winds
they say is happening right now,
the glow brighter than four million suns
together. Strange how invisible accidents
affect things: as we speak, the static
conversation of the big bang murmurs
in the background, though we can’t
hear it. And tonight, we’ll look up
to stars that are no longer there.
Twenty-one years ago we held
hands at twilight and spoke
of trivialities, keeping our voices
hushed in the darkness.
Now the conversation fades,
but the energy from Eta Carinae
is still apparent in the way our shoulders
touch, not precisely kissing, but colliding
-first published in Astropoetica, Vol. 9.2, Summer 2011
Supernova remnant Cassiopeia A
One night the angels came
for her, rustling their wings
in the starlight. She was sleeping.
They grasped her arms and ankles,
lifting her away as though
she weighed nothing at all.
The next morning her feet ached
and her daughter gave her comfort.
That night again they took her,
carrying her past the atmosphere.
She told them she wanted to see
Cassiopeia and they brought
her to the mountains of creation,
dipping her hands and toes in the dust.
She woke dreaming of beauty
but could not walk. Her shoulders
ached and for the first time
she feared. Again in the darkness
the angels found her, hiding
in the bathroom, holding her arms
around her heart. They sang
and she fell asleep. This time
she remembered nothing but
could not smile. In the morning
she found feathers in the bed.
When night came she lay awake
in the dark, pinching her skin,
imagining grief as they gathered
around her. She did not speak
as they pulled her close, pressing
their fingers against her eyes,
brushing their lips to her hair.
She wept and did not look back.
The angels laughed, pretending
happiness, but she felt how they
trembled, holding her too tightly
for hours. That morning she discarded
fear to explain love to her daughter
but by nightfall she knew the angels
had gone and she braided her hair
with sorrow. And when she died
she dreamed of angels crying
in the explosion, scattering
their light in the infinite dark.
-first published in Diode v3n2
The great rift on Saturn’s moon Tethys
Every rock looks the same. A bit gray,
some cracks and craters. Pick it up
and your hand goes stiff with dust
as though everything is disintegrating.
Tethys is dying as we speak, shedding ash
into space, the long rift of the Ithaca Chasma
watching from the pocked surface. Yesterday
I refused to dream because too many years
had passed since my grandmother walked
into the darkest valley. I could not recall her face.
Space is like that. You think the rocks will last
forever, but really, all the stars and moons are broken.
Are breaking. At birth, the crust of Tethys cooled
and the landscape seized up and wrenched apart.
Or maybe bombardment formed Odysseus,
the crater in Tethys’ Great Basin, and the rift.
We’ll never know. She died and the vast black
of space fell down. Ten years later and I’m still
contemplating sorrow, fingering rocks I’ve gathered
and kept like tombstones, like the dust that rings Saturn.
I’m hoping for a halo like that, some sign of light.
I’m hoping that someday at journey’s end I’ll come home
and find the valley of the dead waiting in the backyard,
filled with dust and bits of ancient, cherished stars.
-first published in Lucid Rhythms, Issue 2, 2009