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ECLIPSE
( t = a* i + b * s )

A child pokes a pin

through a cardboard box, drapes

the opposite panel in white.

She is preparing.

 

In the days before my sister died,

she laid drugged, intubated

stuck somewhere behind watery

blue eyes. But we knew

she was there.

 

The doctors shined

a light into her, watched her pupils

pin. We exhaled.

 

The safest way to view

an eclipse is through a tiny hole.

At the right second, an image

projects and we are saved

from direct sunlight.

 

I was in Massachusetts again,

sleeping. My brother called, said

she was bleeding in her brain.

 

Overnight, which cell let go first?

At what exact moment did

the eclipse begin?

 

 

 

COSMIC DUST

all the most powerful planets have rings

i’ve felt inexplicably further from stardust

and i realize that this isn’t how orbits work

but there is evidence that galaxies can combine

gravitational forces to sling shot black holes

through the universe like god is vacuuming

 

calculate:

three times the mass of your uncle’s suicide

and the answer is in kilometers somewhere on 1-95

with your father driving, bursting comets like popcorn

 

my sister doesn’t live on this planet

black holes aren’t just some cosmic curiosity

we’ve all participated in them, probed the edge

of something more massive than us

ears pressed to the dome of night, begging

maybe casseopia can help me quit smoking

 

i should probably start viewing my lover

as the 90% dark matter that he is

i should probably start accepting myself

as the 90% dark matter that i am

 

both unknowable to ourselves

 

 

 

NO SCIENTIST HAS EVER SUGGESTED THAT DARK MATTER

IS THE UNIVERSE DIGESTING ITSELF

but the planets know that somewhere

closer to the edge there is an open mouth

drooling stardust in phosphorescent dollops

from gravitationally detectable teeth

 

what if we all understood

our rotation: a carnival ride on roller skates

whirling down an unknowable drain

 

carl sagan said we are

a way for the cosmos to know itself

i think i am evidence

 

*

 

the scientist triangulating the weight

of a system of stars

has extra

 

my sister at twenty-three gulps

radio-active solution

has extra

 

me raising the cigarette

to my mouth

 

*

 

i’ve seen bodies revert to hydrogen

marched away slowly over years

as if by galactic ants hanging

a constellation of loss

 

i’ve surrendered as a part of the organ

everything rends itself inside

the bulging stomach of the universe

 

 

 

THE DRAKE EQUATION

( N = R x fx Nx fx fx fx fc x L )

my boyfriend and i go out for tacos

to celebrate our first full revolution

around the sun together

 

it is a big deal for both of us loners

we’ve been leading silent civilizations

inside our bodies for years

not used to contact, starting

to doubt

 

on the back of a napkin, i write him

the Drake Equation, explain

 

R is all the new born, wailing stars

having their first blazing burps

expressed as a ratio in solar masses per year

 

f stands for the fraction of stars

pirouetting hands out, palms

full of planets

 

Np is the average number of planets

per star

 

fe slashes the number again by

the planets that develop life, I wink

at my boyfriend to convey the beginning

of the guesstimates

 

fl divides these meager lives

by those we consider Intelligent,

fc provides the final axe, the fraction

of these civilizations that produce technology

 

finally! as if we are not yet improbable

enough, the last multiplier L, the lifetime

of a civilization in years

 

because two intelligent civilizations

capable of communication

is a waste if one burns out

just as the other invents the radio

 

 

 

DID GOD CREATE CIGARETTES?

the universe is 90% dark matter

astronomers think it causes flow

slides the car into the embankment

pushes the plunger in the needle

makes the cells spread like fire

 

they say, we didn’t think

it would be like this

 

*

 

i sit on the porch with my mother

after my sister’s memorial service

it’s winding down, friends, most family

have left. my mother lights a cigarette.

 

she says, “this is it. i quit for three years

and i have to do it again.”

 

i say, “me too” and light my own.

 

 

 

SCIENCE HAS SOME SHITTY ANSWERS FOR MY QUESTIONS

geologically, the moon is dead.

 

i guess i’ve never really expected

the moon to be alive, but it still comes

as a shock to hear it’s dead.

 

this sucks. the moon’s dead but

i can still fucking see her, hung in the sky.

i used to think she smiled at me sometimes,

but now it looks like this haunted grin.

i used to paint my face & take to the fields

every twenty-eight days but now what?

i can honor her ghost every month?

 

i’d rather someone just pull the cord

& shut her out than all of us

stand here, mouths open, watching

her serene body floating through a still pool.