Bootes, Canes Venatici, and Coma Berenices from Uranographia by Johannes HeveliusWho’ll herd the creatures of the constellations
across the prairies of the night sky
if we disappear like dinosaurs into the mists
of archeology?

Who will name them? Who’ll call them
Crab and Bear, minor or major? Who’ll domesticate
The Lesser Dog, The Little Horse, and The Wolf ?

Who would think to inscribe imaginary lines
between anonymous outposts of hydrogen
and helium exploding in the vast stillness
of galaxies where no thing breathes,
just to make something out of nothing?

Who’ll nurture the illusion of them; The Hunter
and The Hunting Dogs roaming in fields
of sprouting nebulae pocked with ditches
of dark matter circled by clumps of cosmic dust?

Who’ll imagine The Lyre and The Painter’s Easel
placed to serenade the inhabitants of utter space,
and poised for the artist who’ll paint their portraits
in a vacuum?

Who’ll inscribe The Eagle on the crystal spheres?
And who will dare to sic The Lion on The Dove
against the wisdom of The Southern Cross?

Who’ll scan The Octant with an octant
to navigate chaos on the back of The Phoenix
if we insist on clutching The Scorpion
to our breast?

Who’ll project all the things of earth upon the heavens
if we continue to be devoured by the blind imagination of
The Dragon?

Copyright © 2009, Jim Culleny

Image Credit: Johannes Hevelius, courtesy of Istituto di Fisica Generale Applicata, Università degli Studi di Milano

Jim Culleny is the Poetry Editor of 3 Quarks Daily. After a stint in the navy, Jim received a BA in Art Education from William Paterson University and did graduate work in art at NYU. He taught art for several years in NJ public schools in Newark and Bergen County. Taught a little bit of everything else during two years at a remote residential community school in New York's Adirondacks. Was a social worker in Lower Manhattan before Soho was Soho. Made a living most of his life as a carpenter, designer, and builder. Did regular radio commentary for about 10 years during Morning Edition on WFCR.FM in Amherst, Mass. and some for NPR on All Things Considered. Played and sang his way from rockabilly to jazz in numberless band permutations over a period too long to believe. Came to poetry through songwriting. Has had work published in The Third Muse Poetry Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, Penthouse Journal, and in 5-Minute Pieces, a chapbook published in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. He's also been writing a regular op-ed column for the past 12 years for the Greenfield Recorder along the beautiful Connecticut River, and is presently making a living as project manager for an Architectural firm. He won first place for a "Serious Column" in the 2008 annual New England Press Association awards. Jim lives with his wife, Pat, of 31 years, and his 17 year old granddaughter. He has three daughters and four other grandchildren.