Dark Sky: appreciating an unusual sight

I’m just back from visiting a patch of “dark sky” in the Gila Wilderness in southern New Mexico called the Cosmic Campground. Two friends and I spent several hours on the night before the new moon gazing at millions of stars. Several generous and devoted astronomers introduced us to their 16” and 18” telescopes, which they called “light buckets” because, in contrast with the naked eye that just isn’t large enough, the telescopes gather in sufficient light to make out incredible details. We saw Jupiter’s moons and Saturn’s rings. We saw Omega in Centaurus,”the grandest globular cluster in the sky,” and we’d never heard of it. We were introduced to Charles Messier, 1730-1817, the “ferret of comets,” who located 100 fixed diffuse objects, not to be confused with comets, with his 4-inch telescope. We were treated to the zodiacal light as well: it’s a roughly triangular glow along the ecliptic that receives sunlight after sunset. It isn’t visible if there is too much ambient light. What a rare joy to see the unobstructed night sky!

Where’s Wun-7, aka 2017, adapted from Where’s Wally?

The Wild West theme of our Christmas Where’s Wally jigsaw features plenty of faces that look like him (stripes, glasses and bobble hat) but aren’t. Twenty-seventeen may offer a similar tempting but misleading surface, with false starts and deceptive practices. And here’s my 2-cents’ worth of New Year’s Resolution.

I say–as advice to myself– “Carpe diem” –Seize the day but don’t try to interpret it too quickly. Use a gentle touch and let your feet float lightly on the ground. You don’t have to have all the parameters yet, so keep your options open while you breathe in the moisture of winter snow and soon catch a whiff of fresh-turned dirt. The shape will arise in its own time and be the more helpful as guidance for not having been rushed.

 

Need to clean those glasses?

Sometimes it’s obvious my comfortable views help me avoid discomfort rather than reflect the way things are. The massacre in Orlando makes me feel my failure of imagination. The life risks faced by the LGBT community have faded from my thoughts over recent years, have not even made much impression; and yet I know better. Similarly, I find myself thinking all’s well with the world, when I know how many refugees fleeing from danger find themselves unwelcome in their new homes. Again, it came as a surprise to learn during the primary campaign the levels of anger brewing in the Southeast US–I’ve been concealing the reality of that malaise for years. It took a recent scientific study of middle-class health to point out that many people don’t expect to succeed as our parents did and suffer high rates of depression and suicide as a consequence. This is just the tip of the iceberg called denial. In the face of such strong lessons, my own calm impresses me as lethargy–while I stubbornly refuse to align my mental images with very large negative realities.

Upcoming Readings

Here are the details of two readings I’m giving this summer as well as a reminder of ways we can all share poetry with each other.

On Thursday June 23 at 6 p.m. I’ll be reading from my new book, The Next Village/Le prochain village at the Cafe François Coppée, 1, blvd Montparnasse in Paris. Eric Sivry, Sylvie Biriouk, and Francine Caron will also participate, by reading the French translations of my poems that appear in this bilingual book.

On Sunday July 17 at 3 p.m. Debbi Brody and I are scheduled to read at the Anasazi Fields Winery in Placitas, New Mexico. We have a great program of new work to share.

Both of these are public events and I’d love to see you there.

I’m looking forward to another reading of my poetry in France on July 1 when I’ll read at a long-standing salon near Avignon in a friend’s home.

As summer finally gets underway, I’m hoping to get together with friends and other poets to read and share poetry during some long beautiful days.

I can’t conclude this list without mentioning the first-Monday open mic in Santa Fe at Teatro Paraguas that is hosted by Jim and Elizabeth Raby. The sign-up is at 6 p.m. and there are often 20-25 readers. It’s a friendly crowd and well worth exploring.