Star Light, Star Bright

Can you believe we’re almost at the end of National Poetry Month? Which means it’s time to share another poem. This one is by Tracy K. Smith, who recently won the Pulitzer Prize for her collection of poetry, Life on Mars. The poem “My God, It’s Full of Stars,” is from that collection. The poem is pretty long, so I’ll just quote a cool section here:



We like to think of it as parallel to what we know,
Only bigger. One man against the authorities.
Or one man against a city of zombies. One man

Who is not, in fact, a man, sent to understand
The caravan of men now chasing him like red ants
Let loose down the pants of America. Man on the run.

Man with a ship to catch, a payload to drop,
This message going out to all of space…. Though
Maybe it’s more like life below the sea: silent,

Buoyant, bizarrely benign. Relics
Of an outmoded design. Some like to imagine
A cosmic mother watching through a spray of stars,

Mouthing yes, yes as we toddle toward the light,
Biting her lip if we teeter at some ledge. Longing
To sweep us to her breast, she hopes for the best

While the father storms through adjacent rooms
Ranting with the force of Kingdom Come,
Not caring anymore what might snap us in its jaw.

Sometimes, what I see is a library in a rural community.
All the tall shelves in the big open room. And the pencils
In a cup at Circulation, gnawed on by the entire population.

The books have lived here all along, belonging
For weeks at a time to one or another in the brief sequence
Of family names, speaking (at night mostly) to a face,

A pair of eyes. The most remarkable lies.

Read on at the Awl. Frankly, I think it’s awesome to write a poem that includes zombies, Kubrick, and the infinity of the universe.

You can also here Smith talk about her poem and read a part of it here.

(image by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, via the Smithsonian Institution)

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