by Charlee Jacob

1. we think there are many stars.

a theory about handfuls
depends upon the size of the hand.

space bends as fingers curl
and judgment comes
in the fist's closing.

2. origin begins with explosion,
pain's onset to fill a void
hitherto unfilled/unfelt.

annihilation is a state alien to no one
has ever been wounded
or suffered the birth of darkness.

3. ambitious worlds mimic
the detonation of galaxies
as toddlers emulate big brothers,
boastful with volcanoes,
vain of the chain reaction.

they need to be consumed by fire,
to be squeezed between dust and water
to believe they are viable.

I, too, only feel alive this way.
I only know I'm breathing
when my blood boils
and earthquakes crack my sleep.

4. the people of moons
have dust faces
and craters for features.
stones mark spots
where they are meant to see,
to breathe and blow kisses.

they whisper death poems
into space as if a lexicon
of cold syllables
could break the void's silence,
as if they might grant
more color to the night.

this makes them legendary,
viewed with veneration
by those who look up
yet see only the black and pale
and who hear no voices.

5. the softening sun but crawls
across the orb of an old clock
still ticking to mark time

when Mars was colonized,
when we left the solar system,
when we finally reached home.

6. we were an explosion,
exponential in a quantum
of manifest destiny.

multiplying throughout plenum
as we had original boundaries,
carrying seeds both xenophobic
and all-embracing.

7. we became alien enough
no blood was held
such as men had ever possessed.
so we nightmared about the color red.

8. those who didn't live
in atmospheres of pure liquid
mused on articulating with bubbles.

those who dwelled in fluid worlds
speculated on what it would be like
to return to dust.

9. those whose brains developed
to swallow the knowledge olam
were electric along scientific creases,
soft nodules of art.

intimate with the sum
of every revelation,
wishing for zarathustras of mystery.

10. we who had no telepathy
dreamed of shutting out others.

11. the best weapons are silent
as if the enemy were already dead,
as if the war were a memory,
as if their planet had been dreamed.

the best weapons whispered death,
estranged from screams,
kaleidoscopic waste.

12. we crush whole species into incense,
lit as a fireworks rocket
to honor the hand.

we watch delighted
a trailing eruption of lights,
apocalypse for someone
as the sparkling tail falls.

our faces wide with childish smiles
of nicht gedanken,
beaming nothing thoughts.

13. I shout myself toward your shores,
insignificant with love.

and you unseen are swept away
ever farther by the first shockwave.

until my noise is no louder
than echoes through a hologram.

14. we went to find ourselves
-- that old psychoanalytical trashtalk --

what we found was nothing like us
and every bit like us.

it ever reached out,
even as it guarded its heart
against the bursting which began it all.

Copyright © 2004, Charlee Jacob
NGC 2440

Planetary Nebula NGC 2440

Charlee Jacob's most recent poetry collection, Cardinal Sins, and e-broadside, Hugo Schizophrenica, are available on-line at Miniature Sun Press. Her most recent novel, Haunter, is out from Leisure Books.

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Image courtesy of NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)