Thursday, May 18, 2017

5/18/17

FIRST MORNING ON ALTAIR
By John Grey


I wake under three receding moons.
Through one, half-opened eye,
I dote on the blessed gift
of six strange soaring creatures.

Fresh silver lakes, shadows given notice,
mountains, half-hatched by light,
hum with cadence,
strident or bell-like, screeching or rasping.
Strange noises don't know where to settle,
always another snap, creak, cry,
darting in, uprooting curiosity.

A sun stands sentry at the outskirts of the colony pod,
heat triumphant,
rays frisking the upper rungs of ladder-like trees,
the windmill blades of foliage eager to be named.

Bellies grunt from distant, gray-tinged meadows.
a dull, raw canticle
for a morning of such promise.
Decaying wood snaps under unseen talons.
An odd birdlike beast droops a claw
into the lake water,
slowly roils the muddy bottom.
Flowers, red, blue and gold,
gather at the tip of zigzag breezes,
chatter like cousins at a wedding.

Radio crackle drifts in from the next room.
It's mostly Earth music, Earth news,
Earth weather report, Earth religion.
In this colony, sound mates like rabbits,
noise upon noise dripping with nostalgia.
The old days are dead in me.
Why this constant funeral service?

But in some parts of this planet,
scientists are already out collecting weird botanical samples,
catching, tagging, bizarre wildlife.
I learn those skills in my sleepiness,
empty out old thoughts,
collect the new, tag the unforgettable.
WAY OUT IN THE OUTER OUTER QUADRANT

I have a name, that's what I'm trying to say.
Consonant, vowels, syllables,
all the necessary fuel.
And I can say it any time I want.

So here we are, name,
out where void too has a name
Silence is one thing
but when there's no Earth to back it up,
then it feels more like the end of everything
than just me keeping my name to myself
for the time being.
Out here, there's no world to contradict,
nothing solid to balance a billion light years of nothing,

Still, I have my name.
I can tell myself who I am if need be,
I'm too far away from everything
to speak to anyone else in the universe.
But, at least, inside my head the reception is still clear.
It's the linkage I'm worried about,
the threads that connect me to the rest of human life.
Sure, there's memories,
and their reels are rolling through my mind now,
but they come with a label warning that
they contain space wind, star showers,
meteorites, crash landings and computer malfunction.

And there's always God of course.
So I pray to the provider of all this emptiness.
Did He run out of ideas I'm wondering?
Or was He just bloody-minded,
knowing I'd be blowing by this way some day.
I start to say my name but the silence won't have
any of that blasphemy.
It bites hard down on my word.
Lost is the scientific term for my situation.
And it's the only name I answer to these days.


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John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Schuylkill Valley Journal, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Columbia Review and Spoon River Poetry Review.

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