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Family of Stars

Walter Bargen



When the sky is

no longer just sky, the buffeted debris of wind and light,

sucking black holes

and colliding galaxies, and we are ready to improvise ragged visions

on the bottomless up

we stare into, the endless tales tongued by clouds,

half seen, hardly seen,

much less heard, quickly scudding toward a weathered dissolution,

hail and pounding deluge,

a preparation for yet another resurrection beyond stone worship

and memory. 


No book-thumbed page of the fossil record, no number one

on the phylum charts,

no top forty crustacean to spin over growing static and worse reception

as devolving distance swells,

and no lance for the red-shift boil. No audience for the do-whop of humming planets,

the celestial music

truly celestial and unbearable, where a tree falls silently in the forest

rearranging the decomposition.


There's no doubt, I remember you, your father laid out

in a Cincinnati hospital bed,

dentures spilling half out of his mouth like a deck of cards, the ace hidden  

up someone else’s sleeve,

and your mother unable to remember anyone except perhaps this pocket of earth

that’s always difficult

to find: the row, the plot, a whole city of grass avenues to stroll

and any stone

might do, but I keep searching as your sister’s eyes bulged,

frog-like above

the pond of sheets from the pressure of tumors, a permanent

hysterical stare

as the sky crashed silently through the room.  No, not permanent.


I remember you

in the backyard, snapping me into your baseball dream, throw fast,

throw straight,

throw at the mitt. We were each other's eternities. I remember

as I remember

my own dark, until there is no remembering and the clouds blow

over into a wider quiet.






The above poetry poster is by summer associate, Allison Malecha.


Walter Bargen has published thirteen books of poetry of poetry. His last two book are: Theban Traffic (2008) and Days Like This Are Necessary: New & Selected Poems (2009). He is the winner of the Chester H. Jones Foundation prize in 1997, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1991, and the William Rockhill Nelson Award. He was appointed to be the first poet laureate of Missouri (2008-2009).
A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. - Henry David Thoreau


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