Birth by fire.

For eleven days
we three men
leave our Mother’s
arms but never
her reach. Earth
shines; the Moon
is far away.

Mother’s reach stifles:
the nest cannot
hold us now.
We do not
go far: just
to peer at
the dark side
of bright Luna.

Luna welcomes us
and Mother’s heart
breaks in pride
and wistful longing.
My dusty footsteps
will linger here
for decades, but
Earth begs us
to return. We
leave flags, boots,
and predecessor ghosts.

Birth by fire.
Oxygen is our
lifeline and our
fiery garrote here.
Luna falls away
and worried Mother
stares in horror
at her floundering
children. God beckons
but Mother won’t
let go. She
pulls us gently
to her breast.

This is our
last love affair
with bright Luna.
We slink away
in black night
to touch her
and we linger
longer than ever
before, filling our
eyes with her,
our dusty lover.
We orbit her.
We orbit her
but Mother calls
and her call
stirs our souls:
Earth waits, children.

Voyager I and the Blue Planet

I wonder if you remember me.
You said, “Go out. Find me
that universe, and take these
with you.” Talismans.

Good luck charms like Mozart
and fifty-five ways to say hello.
Navajo night chant,
Peruvian wedding song,
diagrams of ribcages, gender,
bushmen and bones.
Gifts for a people you said
I may never meet.

It has been thirty-four years
and I wonder if you remember me.

Less and less,
we call across the distance:
sixteen-point-twelve hours
between transmissions
and I wonder if you remember me.

I nearly kissed Jupiter for you,
nearly skimmed Saturn’s bright rings,
but you said, “Go out.
Find me that universe,”
so I sail out into the dark for you.

I keep a photo of you
to keep away the quiet
between your calls:
pale speck, long distant,
but I remember you.

I know now,
you will never call me home.

The Moon, The Stars, The Sun

The Moon is too full,
and the stars are curtained,
snuffed out, stifled in their
cradles before they can cry,
because their mother is too
bright, too large, too low
on the horizon, low enough
to kiss treetops the stars
can never kiss. The Moon
loves treetops, and starlings
in their quiet nests.

The Moon has strangled
herself in mourning, doused
her light in funeral black,
and now the stars dance,
fire buoys against the sea
of night so we wayward ships
won’t lose ourselves in the
black. The stars hear our tears
when the Moon is too
drowned in her own.

The Sun forgets his lover.
He never sees her alabaster
cheek, nor the pockmark scars
beneath her veil. He shines,
careless, unconcerned, on
treetops and the empty nests of
starlings. He does not reach out
to comfort her. She must shrug her
own veil off. The Moon must glow
without him, but she knows only
the inward focus of reflection.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.

Sevenling (My Favorite Constellation)

My favorite constellation cannot be found
among Orion’s armament, nor the broad chest of Leo,
nor among the Ursas and their dippers.

My Little Love, eight stars, and this her story:
I uncovered her as the sun went down, traced her shape
with the tips of my fingers, memorized her even as she went away.

My Little Love, eight stars; freckles on the small of my love’s back.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.


Night unzips a black dress,
reveals the thousand
thousand freckles
brilliant on her back.

How long have small astronomers
studied these curves and parabolae?
Look for the hunters and heroes
drawing back their arrows
upon her shoulderblades,
look for lion and lyre,
look for Cassiopeia queen
and Cygnus swan

look for the favorites asleep
beneath Night’s breast:
Alpheratz and Procyon,
Regulus and Rigel,
Aldebaran, Sirius,
the wild wolf of Sirius,
look for countless other
unnamed children aglow
and clinging to
the hip of Mother Night.

How many hidden worlds
does this celestial body
carry on the black pores
of her flesh? How many

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.

Pilot Star

Some nights when you have gone to sleep
I go up to the roof and look for my pilot star,
my navigation star,
my guideline, my trajectory,

the place I am heading
when I stretch out my arms
and leap off the roof
and leave this silly planet behind.

Once I find it, I could go anywhere.

Fling myself out into the black sea,
skip upon every world whirling around the sun:
angry Jupiter, mysterious Saturn,
the frozen pebble of silent Pluto.
I could just keep going, out beyond the asteroids,
out past the dusty corner of everything
humans have ever known,
into the dark, into the dark,
until I find out where space ends
and nothing begins.

I never find it, my pilot star.

It is not there.
I will search and stare and hunt
for my pilot star until the night is almost spent
and then I will go in and lie down next to you,
next to the smell of your hair,
the heat of your body, the shape of you,
and I will know why.

Jupiter has its storms
and Saturn its rings
and forgotten Pluto cold secrets,
but only the Earth has you.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.

Gazing Is Not Enough

You have to envy
the old astronomers.

They could only gaze up
at nightly glitter sky,
up at the planets and the stars
and know they were
so very far away,
out of reach, and so,
could only be content to gaze.

Now, the heavens are too close.
Now, we are stung by the dream
of going up and out into the wild
black sea, to set our boots
upon the dust of untamed worlds
and to orbit stars so unlike our own.

It is almost possible.
It is possible,
we have gone up and done it,
but only the fewest of us,
and there are nations of us
burning in our bellies with
the desire to sail the sky.
Gazing is not enough.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.


One day, someone will ask
for volunteers to leave this place
and I will go.

I will leave behind the trees
and the seas and the bluest skies
and I will leave you, too.
I will leave you.
I will venture out
into the starry unknown
and find what lies beyond
this wet marble of a world,
aching, I will leave you
and I do not think I will return.

You will not come with me
and you will not ask me to stay,
and we both know why.

We have always known this
about ourselves. You love closely
and I love from far away.

This poem was originally published under the pen name Gabriel Gadfly.