by: Jeanine Onori Webb
These two poems by Jeanine Onori Webb shift our perspective about our human struggles to the cosmic scale, but not through the hubris of believing that our importance is so vast, but rather through the notion that the vastness of the Cosmos still has much to teach us about who we are: “When I glimpse your green corolla and your bluing fire/ the space between us contracts in sympathy.”
And with the day, distance again expands
Voiceless between us, as an uncoiled shell.
No – this here is no uncoiling but just
the result of specific gravity. We’re
two binary stars which orbit addictively
a center of mass so dense, so packed that it’s
a city of its own, with its own zoos and knacks.
No – it’s not an uncoiled shell but the coiling of
an occult path. We can trace the eccentricities
of our outer curves, but the yawn of the universe is
too much to ask. We’re always surprised
by the parallax.
Mizar and Alcor are tickling the Bear’s feet.
Albireo in the Swan is counting feathers until
they’re gone. Others still orbit around an empty space.
We see their mate’s black holes and envy none.
When I glimpse your green corolla and your bluing fire
the space between us contracts in sympathy.
We glide towards one another like twin clippers
seen through telescopes of highest resolving power.
We can go from repulsion to catacyclsm to nova in an hour
before our proper motion returns us to the core.
SUITE FOR A MOON LANDING
Let there be a core of rock and fire
Rocketing in a slow arc towards
The pasted-on face of the old moon
Drifting into eclipse. The new moon
Is hatching the base. Drift, again,
The steel birds beaten thin,
The flummoxed astronaut,
The wan customers,
The opera dresses,
The ravishing planet,
Winking back vaudvilleian
Through the scope.
One eats a mooncake and takes the
Dragon into the carbuncle heart.
One keens for silver, for a habitable
Cold, for the shining withers of that
Mythic gyroscopic womb,
Incalcuable. On earth, the sweaty jungles
Store up their ocelots and vireos.
Call to one another microphonicly
Across breccia and glass,
The terminal rovers.
One tires of footprints,
Of the naked constellations,
In the enraged reality of the sun.
Jeanine Webb (she/they) is a writer, collective organizer, and cancer survivor. A 2016 Doctoral Fellow in Literature at UC San Diego, her research focuses include epic and counterepic genres and intersectional feminism, poetry and social movements, and race and gender in speculative fiction. Her poetry has been published in many journals in the U.S. and abroad, including Lana Turner, ARMED CELL, The Capilano Review, The Antioch Review, DATABLEED, Jupiter 88, Lumen and many others, and her essays have been published in Tripwire, ON Contemporary Practice, Monstering, Occupy Poetics, on the Poetic Labor Project and the Post-Crisis Poetics series. She has presented her work at Historical Materialism in New York and at Comic-Con, and she publishes the cartonera-style SD/Tijuana journal TACOCAT. She currently teaches literature and writing and co-curates the Non-Standard Lit Reading Series in San Diego.
Right in my wheelhouse. As an amateur astronaut I understand her/their references to matters noetiphysical; the sky is my playground in the night. The constellations are filtered through survived ancient stories from many cultures that are perhaps the oldest narratives to bleed across millennia and emerge mostly intact for our modern minds to apprehend. And, yes, the poems. How lovely. They make me want to discover Jeanine Webb sitting on the moon smoking a cigarette laced with opium in a long long holder.
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