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ode to the visible universe (final draft i swear)

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space, black tablecloth
and spilled salt: your
starfields shivering behind
            the pollution

when i was young and
babyfaced and wonderous
your immensity terrified me but
one day, after loving

after losing: you became a comfort
             where would i be
without your existential
enormity and your nightfall curtain
calls falling shut to unwrap black expanse? whose
to conquer but mine?
             whose to conquer but

those who know death, know it for
what it is, who know it and have
held it as a thing heavy
and real and cold
as a stone in their
hands, who know it and still dare
turn skyward for answers?

a man does not
           pray anymore after that

(death and space
are inextricable, are twined together
           in the same rope
that contains vibrant, endless life)
i had no idea. you remind me of home, as freezing
and boiling and toxic and friendly as
any familial spat

you do not scare me.

you soar heron-like on a canvas black
like absolute nothing, wings spread far
from corner to star-littered corner
of how far the light stretches (pitch between like ocean depths)

(and perhaps we, too: more empty than full)

you come from
the end, and the beginning, and whatever
             lies between
(a solace to mere mortality, a fly in the web of continuity)

you are not a god
made of anything we can comprehend

                 (probability itself keels and chokes at your feet)

you arrive bearing tomorrow
on apollo's back
(apollo, who has nothing earthly to fear
              seizes up when daring

to comprehend the cosmos)

i have marveled at everything
you have deemed show me
              have humbled beneath eclipse
and quasi-stellar radio source

you are so much more than any earthly concept
              your celestial sunsong, the
solar astrochemistry
              within supernovae
dwarfing anything gaia could ever present,
more damning, more redeeming
than any hell rained down by what frail humans
            could accomplish by happenstance

you are nothing if not forever
just as polaris tilts and wobbles in our north,
               you are as steady and consistent as orbital fluctuation

you are reliant on
the sum of your parts
but you are indefinite, our planet a little spinning top

insignificant in its star-spun flight paths
              within the visible universe

how massive you are, how humanly finite (viewfinding
opal eyes:
               how weak and yet skyward we look
icarus had to have something to shoot for)

o, sunspots, you are
too beautiful to look at for long
             (without risking blindness)

and yet: pitch dark, overcast natural state
of everything that has ever, will ever have existed

with coincidental light

              (everything dies, eventually. everything
dies.) with you

flourishes life, death, space
(components woven
               together in the same rope)

this is why, starfield, you are unlikely
gravity, why you refuse to pull
taffy-linked orbital paths too thin

i have praised many things, but you
are more than any helios
of short-sighted civilizations

that within the sky found the sun the only thing to fear
             (and not the spaces between
countless stars)

wondering naked faces turned up
like so many daffodils
            and those lives lost (those souls, heavy and cold)

do you have my grandfather?
(perhaps wrought-iron stairs spiraling into blue-black underbelly
take longer than a week to climb.)
            my sister now joined the ranks of
those that space belongs to

            the minute she boarded the plane that scooped her higher
towards you, to your enormity, was she scared?

tell me your eggshell atmospheric arms
            prepared her for the cold waiting for her when she landed
life and death (old and new)
twine ropelike

(she wraps this cord around her hands
tight enough to hurt)
and small things in the grand scheme get lost, like

a grandmother who no longer
            recognizes her children
and sorts through collected
photos alone trying desperately

            to tell flesh and blood from magazine clippings

and you remain indifferent because these things don’t matter to forever

i seize because my sister is young and mortal
            and your enormity must have
terrified her but she has loved
(and she has lost)

she will have stared death in
            the deep, sallow eyes

(she will have held death’s warm palm and
            called them friend)

do not let go, so help me god.

keep her feet pressed to this earth
you, visible universe, vibrant opal eyes of neverending
            do not lead her astray as you have me

your expanse begs closer, begs knees to the pavement
begs shuttered eyes to eclipse;

teach her not to fear her sun in the sky
(though helios himself is no friend)

            teach her to fear the spaces between.

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holla holla get dolla

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