Published but Uncollected…

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The Apostrophe Blog

Musings on Writing and Life.

I have a good number of poems that were published online or in print and then never found their way for some reason or another into my various poetry book collections. Here is one I have always liked because it speaks to the strangeness of growing up where I did—the anthracite coal country of northeastern Pennsylvania. That it was considered fun to meet and hang out under an abandoned water tank with the auspicious? numeral 69 spray-painted onto its surface and no vegetation to speak of anywhere in sight—well, I guess those of us who found ourselves in Northern Appalachia made the best of our situation. This poem is about one night I ended up at that godforsaken spot with a soulful, artist-friend and all we did (of course) was talk, talk, talk about everything (and then some) in the world. We were kids, barely out of high school, and we would lose track of one another for a few decades only to find each other again in the first years of this 21st century and pick up where we left off. So this one, originally published in 2011 on the Phantom Kangaroo website (now defunct) is for G.K. You know who you are.

Under the Yoke of Inauspicious Stars

You burn me,
a bundle of duty,
a pietà limp,
acute angle
in your arms.
We blaze
through Orion,
beyond Virgo
one more night
by the strip mine,
our backs a trail
along the strut
of the empty
water tank—
69 painted white
on its towering rust.
That’s what
goes on here.
But not now, not us.
The valley below alit,
a nameless constellation
of lights, daytime’s ugly
gussied up.
We hold hands,
your voice a precious
rumble, pea coal raked
as you speak
of saints and hate
and those who would
shut us off from God.
Our innocence held taut,
flamboyant in itself.
Neither of us brave
enough to climb skyward,
to banshee our longings
loud above the grim
bottomless gash.

The public domain image above is from the European Space Agency. It is listed as the LH 95 star forming region of the Large Magellanic Cloud. The image was taken using the Hubble Space Telescope.

Nancy Flynn
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