Monday, July 3, 2017

Summer Solstice Splendid Wake Poetry Pop-Up

by Kim Roberts

Some disappeared as Earth
grew brighter. Some just fell out of favor.
Some were mere flattery:

Louis XIV’s hand and scepter
(proposed by the royal astronomer)
or the crossed swords of Saxony

to honor the German Emperor Leopold.
My favorites among the obsolete
showed off the new technologies,

as if their invention were star-prophesied.
Tubus Herschelii Major,
Sir William Herschel’s largest telescope,

Machina Electrica, stars forming
the cube of an electric generator.
Or the crowded chaos

of Officina Typographica, the printing office.
In the 1801 star atlas Uranographia,
it jobbed up east of Sirius.  Did its noise

keep the neighbors up at night?
Did Canis Minor bark for hours?
And little Pyxis Nautica,

the Mariner’s Compass: did the printer
interrupt its navigation, confusing
its ascension and declination,

pulling barques and schooners
wildly off their course?
Retired rollers and plate cylinders

clang no more.  Monoceros,
the unicorn, lives atop those same stars,
straddles the press with its hind legs.

The stern of Argo Navis covers
the box of movable type.  This section
of the celestial sphere,

previously gerrymandered
by Johann Bode, has returned
to form.  Held in place

by frisket and tympan,
the inky sky fades back to black.
No characters, no ligatures,

no copyright, no authorship.
Gutenberg stands mute.
Silence reigns in space once more.

“Abandoned Constellations” is reprinted from The Scientific Method by Kim Roberts, WordTech Editions, 2017, with permission of the author.

Photo credit: Dan Vera
BIO: Kim Roberts is the author of five books of poems, most recently The Scientific Method (WordTech Editions, 2017). The title poem from that collection was featured on a seven-foot banner at the Poetry Tent at the National March for Science in Washington, DC, sponsored by the Wick Poetry Center’s “Traveling Stanzas” project, and is now touring the US. Roberts co-edits two literary journals, Beltway Poetry Quarterly and the Delaware Poetry Review, and the web exhibit DC Writers’ Homes. She is the recipient of fellowships from 17 artist colonies, and has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Humanities DC, and the DC Commission on the Arts. Her website:

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