When the Comet Dust Settles


  Your words are stone, but your tongue is rain

—Octavio Paz


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

remember you.

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?


john mannone


The Planets


Messenger of the gods

Tiptoes over lava

Cooler than the Sun



Bone-washing acid

Dissolves a lover’s heart

Runs away to greenhouse



Perfectly placed

Punctuates the universe

Pale blue dot



Red planet White caps

Blue Tasmanian sunsets

Un American



Heaven spills rocks

Copper banded sweeper

Dust in cosmic wind



Ringed with strawberry moons

Lighter than topaz chiffon

Floats on Milky Way



Blue obliquity

Magnetic personality

Attractive green



700 miles per hour

Iris green in gray eye

Wind winking



Frozen tundra

Hydrocarbon snowball

Black ice


John C Mannone

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


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