Brendan O'Connor


Out of the Rust Belt's
halogen reach, against

a wrinkled backdrop
of microwaves & dream

static, you can make out
that one's a giant, that one

compels hearts: Jupiter
& Venus, the powerful one

& the bright one, together,
tonight at least. Seems like

every couple of years,
someone's closer than she

has been, for several thousand,
or will be, for thousands

more. Check your star chart:
the two of them hang there

along with deep sky objects
whose nature & influence

are likewise unclear. But you
can bet they've figured out

what to make of disappointment.
What about you? Remember,

the old gods never asked
to star in your creation

myth—& now, because of
what we call conjunction, a matter

of perspective, you want to act
like everything's aligned?



The world at a loss, & the buds
Of thistles (or whatever) bursting like tender
Wintry bombs around my head
In a photograph from our virgin
Camping days. Depression-era
Stubble, weeds & stumps, one un-
Redeemed burn, the one place
In the park where new-growth forest
Isn't fooling anyone. With night,
News from the mountains, late
August flurries. I'm looking for someone
Holding a camera, lost
In the visible wavelengths of sunlight.

It happened here. Each suspected
That staking it all on the other
Was unwise—but what wisdom
From the world in answer? Let's swear
On the coals of a literal fire we failed
To blow into burning: at that
Moment our unremarkable lives
Were already over.



on REFRACTOR: Thinking about nights spent crouched over my tiny Edmund Astroscan in a field near my parents' house, freezing my knuckles raw to get a look at cloud bands on Jupiter (for example) it occurred to me that the planets might serve as the stuff of myth for me—as they did for the Greeks and Romans, among others. But then, the poem wants to interrogate the whole enterprise, and morality, even, of transforming the lives of people you love through myth and storytelling.

on BIG MEADOWS: the poem takes its name from an area of Shenandoah National Park that has since been relocated outside of time. I meant the poem to be haiku-like, a snapshot of an instant, condensing years' worth of trajectories and negotiations and distilling the feeling, familiar to others, hopefully, that you're getting in way over your head.