When the Comet Dust Settles
Your words are stone, but your tongue is rain
When I first met you, your words were hard
and I was caught in a blizzard of stones.
Your tongue, a cloud full of storm. But ever since
last August, when we held each other on a starlit hill,
watched the Perseids’ green streaks across the sky,
I kissed you each time a meteor firefly’d the night.
Must have been fifty or a hundred in the predawn.
You asked in a pearl-ash voice, “How can that be?”
“The kisses?” I said. “No,” you said, “the fire
in the sky.” And I told you, “When my whole body
turns—as the Earth does into a swarm of comet dust—
I am deluged by the soft rain of your words.”
Perhaps There Will Be Roses
After “Moon Risen” (acrylic on canvas)
by Sarah Oyetunde
They said it would be like a dream: surreal
clouds with gentle wisps, cottony tentacles
coiling into upper level winds; into heavens
with a faceless moon, not mine, it’s Titan
rising above Enceladus into the icy stratus
layering sky. It must be cold there, I see
no orange haze. But here, a warmer ocean
curls into aquamarine. Just offshore, fractals
wedge, like cubists’ waves, splash methane,
saline-green of dissolving bled-out hearts,
from ones onshore: purple starfish blooms,
jellybean hearts on a stalk, clusters of them
washing into sea’s sway.
A few gulls etch the unreal sky—horizon
blazoned in blood-moon red, stratified blue,
like your eyes; mauve, the sheen in your hair
under real moonlight. I can feel the kiss
of starlight, taste the roses, smell joy.
Doc sent me here, to the solar system’s edge,
retreat for the weary space traveler. I yearn
for recollections of Earth. Let them probe me
with whatever they want, let them help me
The Scattering of Stars
When I was young
I’d shoot marbles
Now I dream
Of shooting stars
I held a clear glass jar of marbles up
to the light in astronomy lab.
Challenged my students to count them
without twisting the lid and spilling them
on the floor or on the black velvet cloth
that I used to wipe the cat’s eyes,
the solids, steelee’s, and boulders with.
Each one, a speckled glitter-glass,
with its own universe of stars.
Did you ever try to guess how many
gumballs could be crammed
inside a foot-high fish bowl
at a Ben Franklin five and dime store?
As a boy, I’d try to count the candy,
fingering each one of those gumballs
from the counter as if to shoot them.
Those same fingers would grip
a bright blue pouch of marbles,
scorch a circle on the hard winter ground
with a smoldering stick of hickory
I pulled from a burning pile of wood—
flames bursting the cold edge of air.
We stood around the circle, each of us
tossing four marbles into a sack,
shook them well and emptied them
inside the dirt ring. We drew
lots. I shot first. Flaming
red hair crowning my focused eyes.
I knelt. My right arm spring-loaded
to the elbow, and worked a marble
from the palm of my hand
up the fist-barrel to the thumb latch
under my forefinger, to the nook
of my boney catapult.
I flicked my broad thumbnail
and jettisoned a clear red marble.
It sped along the universe of dirt,
Sun’s glint now caught in the manifold
of its glass fins. It rolled
like a supergiant full of glass layers.
It sparkled before the collision
and the scattering of stars.
Then splintered into shards.
A black star remained in the center
of the ring, its onyx glass not flung
as the other ones were one-by-one.
Who is counting the shooting stars?
God always shows his hand.
Who would have thought
there’d be so much empty space
weaved in between those marble stars?
Messenger of the gods
Tiptoes over lava
Cooler than the Sun
Dissolves a lover’s heart
Runs away to greenhouse
Punctuates the universe
Pale blue dot
Red planet White caps
Blue Tasmanian sunsets
Heaven spills rocks
Copper banded sweeper
Dust in cosmic wind
Ringed with strawberry moons
Lighter than topaz chiffon
Floats on Milky Way
700 miles per hour
Iris green in gray eye
John C. Mannone has over 500 works published in venues such as Inscape Literary Journal, Acentos Review, Windhover, Artemis, 2016 Texas Poetry Calendar,Southern Poetry Anthology (NC), Still: The Journal, Town Creek Poetry, Tupelo Press, Baltimore Review, Pedestal and others. Author of two literary poetry collections—Apocalypse (Alban Lake Publishing, Jul 2015) and Disabled Monsters (The Linnet’s Wings Press, Dec 2015)—he’s the poetry editor for Silver Bladeand the Hugo-nominated Abyss & Apex. In 2013, he was the Rhysling Poetry Chair for the Science Fiction Poetry Association. He won the 2015 Joy Margrave award for creative nonfiction as well as the 2015 Tennessee Mountain Writers poetry contest. He’s been nominated three times for the Pushcart. He is a professor of physics in east TN. Visit The Art of Poetry: http://jcmannone.wordpress.com