Astropoetica: Mapping the Stars through Poetry

Star-Struck Utopias of the 21st Century

Giant Nebula NGC 3603

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

What if Society became so obsessed with the stars
    as a result of Emerson's epiphany
"If the stars came out only one night in a thousand years
    how people would believe and adore
        and preserve from generation to generation
    remembrance of the miracle they'd been shown"
That everyone started sleeping during the day
    so they could stay up all night
        star-gazing, star-thinking, star-dreaming,
Being in the Milky Way so they could have
    maximum exposure to the Universe
        beyond Earth and our own Star.
Rather than being consumed by human history,
    art, literature, music, religion, politics, business,
        consumed by the stars,
    hunger to be with them and
        star-roving MilkyWaydom,
So much so that people spent more time
    looking at the Milky Way than at each other,
        more time looking up
    than straight ahead or down.
Total blackout in all cities—no streetlights, stoplights, carlights,
    driving at night illegal,
        no lights in buildings but candles,
Whole populations thronging to darkened
    baseball stadiums and skyscrapertops
        to sit holding hands en masse
    and look up at the billion-year spree
        of the realm of the nebulae!

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Antler, former poet laureate of Milwaukee, is author of Factory (City Lights), Last Words (Ballantine), Subterranean Rivulet (Falling Tree Press), Ever-Expanding Wilderness (Howling Dog), and Exclamation Points ad Infinitum! (Centennial Press). Winner of the Walt Whitman Award from the Walt Whitman Association, the Witter Bynner Prize from the American Academy & Institute of Arts & Letters and a Pushcart Prize, his poems also appear in the recent anthologies: Poets Against the War, Best Gay Poetry 2008, Great Poems for Grand Children (AARP), Comeback Wolves: Welcoming the Wolf Home, and Wild Song: Poems from Wilderness. In 2010 Antler read with Robert Bly at the Centennial Celebration of the Poetry Society of America in Minneapolis.