“All the birds come home to roost,” the old
fantasist wrote. But fantasy is fact
these star-touched Afternoons. Time bends to gold,

or ductilizes. Skip the second act
is all I ask of you, my nenuphar:
Book passage. Sail down heaven’s cataract

and race the sun in some canopic jar
a while. I’ll pay your fare and have you home
by dusk. Though dusk depends on where you are,

and I’ll be dying here beneath the dome
of seasons while you plummet from the clock
and wager on what church or hippodrome

will be in ruins when you reach the dock.
Take time to gentle the remembered air
that has forgotten you. Then come and knock

and join the exhibition gathered there,
around my bed — old lovers come and gone,
and those the rush of years has yet to bear

into my arms, all sent to greet the dawn
as I’d send you. A year in amber. Bide,
and take your place among the pantheon,

and I’ll revere each time-unravaged bride
in turn, then take my leave. (And leave my trove,
of course; you won’t go hungry. I’ll provide.)

The last to take my offer? Oh, she strove
a moment with it, but we fetishists
are eloquent when rich. Her rocket hove

toward Pleione’s daughters and their cobalt mists
a month or two ago. The thought of her
as fresh in seven decades puts my guts in twists

of wild anticipation. Don’t defer —
I’m wilder for you, and the evening’s cup
is brimming yet. Come make a brilliant blur

of memory for the starways; drink and sup
and say you’ll while my lifetime in the cold
of space — or there’s no way I’ll get it up.


I submitted this poem to STRANGE HORIZONS early in September and just got back a gracious rejection. I don’t really have it in me to search for another venue that would consider poetry whose comprehension requires passing fluency with both relativistic time dilation and the writings of Dan Savage, and that very fact may be this poem’s fatal flaw in any case. (Which is not to imply that I can’t detect infelicities of execution on a much more technical level — the coda’s bump, the use of “-ove” that seemed so daring at 1:00 am, the iffy transition from wrestling with the metric structure at the beginning to flowing with it through the rest…) Anyway, on the blog it goes.

It was fun to do. My heavy poetic phase coincided with a heavy hormonal phase, during which I produced nothing good (it was all heavily hormonal, modulo the few that were Dungeons & Dragons-based) but got some practice with rhyme and meter — so it’s interesting to revisit those skills with now that I’ve gained a little subtlety.

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