The speed of light is cruelly insufficient
Carrying its news so fast, as fast
as it can carry anything, or fast
as we suspect a thing can carrièd be.
And still that news is always later than
When it was truly new. Consider if
you will the fates of stars: Those lights you see
This night may not be extant glowing spheres
of incandescent superfluminesce:
That nebuliscious Crab was once a star,
When you and I were lungfish, or far less.
It’s gone now: blown to glory’d vap'rous tatters.
They each and every one of them (the stars)
May be a long past loss whose passing we
Are learning late of, in this now, this night.
The others in our local area
have known as long in years as they are far
Far far from here in galaxies away
From us. And where they stand, they will not know
Whatever we may do until we too are gone:
This light this heat this night by then will be
As gone gone gone
As Alderaan -raan -raan,
Albeit less fictional.
A poem is a story of its time.
I watched the television, and I thought:
Those young chefs on the Channel of All Foods,
Each evening striving to avoid the Chop….
Well no. I did not think it in those terms.
Begin again, speak straighter, lay it out.
There was a time, as recent as … last week?
But no … But last month, certainly? Yes, yes:
Within these recent (?) days, there was a time
When each night we could watch aspiring chefs
With dreams as big as Space, as big as those
Of them as lived on planets now consumed
By Death Stars or by neutron stars or some
such things. Those dreams - of making tasty foods
For others in your neighborhood or world;
For strangers, in perhaps for just the night;
For friends who come to see what you have made,
Or something for your family, just for them -
Those dreams were extant when that show was shot,
And when those chefs triumphant howled their joy
They thought they would indeed go home again
And open up their petite boîtes de rêve,
Their little foody dream boxes. But, no:
Since then, this world's gone wrong. A cruel star -
A Wormwood, if you will - has cast them out
And shut them down, and dreams are busted plates
And bolted doors, and rent come due and no,
No hope but in delay and clenching teeth
And laying low or lighting out, or [blank].
I wanted to tell a story of a bat,
But it proved a bad idea.
It began, I thought, like this:
in caverns measureless to all men but the Khan,
There lived a bat and all his family.
The Khan, withdrawn from Xanadu and dying,
[this was later]
Recalled how there had been a limpid night
The crescent moon and evening star had shone
so bright between them other skybound lights
seemed cast in shadow, while all earthborne things
Were luminous, though seen in silhouette.
At ease beside a phosphorescent pool,
The Khan sensed hovering wings
[the story would go on: the Khan would bond
with the fledermauskin, teaching it cosmology.
The little bat in its turn learns to drink down stars,
Their glory and their fearsomeness - it’s grand! -
And many centuries later the little bat’s descendants
(the story going on apace, you see, to our own day)
are themselves drunk down by men,
Become an Origin Story,
the one I thought to tell, as if it were novel,
as if it were interesting. Well, so much for that.]
In Alderaan did Hollywood
a bounteous peaceful paradise decree,
And on the day on that world, or the night,
or noon, depending where one was aboard
that lovingly imaginary globe,
Those fond, imagined citizens awoke,
Or slept or stretched or ate or drank or dreamt
- I think of them as eating, drinking, dreaming -
Or swooned or belched or muddled on their way
Or did whatever else they might, and then
A Crisis came and that's the end of that
. . .