The Star


you see I’m trying to get

away from the booze hound

in the Mexican cantina

under these festive chili lights

like it was Christmas in July

like a heat spell that foretells

the end of the world

and launching off the planet

with a tear in the eye

and a hopeful woman floating

in her silver zero gravity suit

and that star just a number

where our great great grand

children will begin again

life with the same mix of

tragedy and vice and loneliness

and occasional tenderness

and a glass of green fantasy

but even here they come up

with those faces of broken

blood vessels like sculptures

rough-hewn from a raw scream

saying I left my distortion box

out there in the rain and now

it’s picking up signals from old

Soviet Union cold war days

prairie wind and mile on mile of

empty road rolling right back

where the needle goes in

and the nurse explains this may

make you a little dizzy

and she’s right and what a glorious

sea it is and that rickety dock

I dive from into liquid sky

to swim out through the sun’s eye

into clouds of unknowing where

I see the great architecture of

crystalline light bridges that

I realize I’m only making up

as I look through a manhole

cover in the ground in the

city of the dead that trembles

with a breath and shatters

as I’m sucked back into

Langley by the sea

Island spirit floating

in the never never mist

where when the desperate reach

that point of exhaustion

the last of the fuel burned

the lights gone out and the final

relative buried in the common grave

I’m out here and take nothing

but what fits in these pockets

with the screen door open

and wind like a ghost rushing in

walking out through empty streets

and every step feeling like now

I’ve made it so I’ll start again

realizing wait a minute wait a minute

as those steps circle back to town

over and over with less

to return to but the Bulldog

over the bay with the last

fishing boat beached and listing

dry on the sand and armies of

crabs none too happy with the way

the water’s been clouding down

march up over the pylons

growing bigger as they come

their claws flashing like swords

as they descend on the homes

and click cut pluck up

sleeping people and snap

timbers in apocalyptic devastation

ha                   that’s one

to wake up from in a daze

saying what a doozy

to an empty room on a gray day

dressing slowly as a good citizen

filling a lunch box with an apple

and a sandwich wrapped in wax paper

and heading up the old road

under the mill smoke piling up

with tin hat crane operators

and massive movement of earth

as I pass the gate and stand among

the red spirits of the yawning

excavation pit while the whole

scene vanishes with a voice narrating

weather trends and ship lanes

and drinking songs and memories

old lays and things thought gone

you’d never believe were true

and making it up as we go along

DOUGLAS COLE has published four collections of poetry and a novella. His work is in anthologies and journals such as The Chicago Quarterly Review, Chiron, The Galway Review, and Slipstream. He has been nominated for a Pushcart and Best of the Net, and received the Leslie Hunt Memorial Prize in Poetry. His website is