Unsafe on Our Oars  Barry Ballard



. . . upon again lapsing into life, there had been no perceptible descent in the pendulum.
    – Edgar Allan Poe, "The Pit and the Pendulum"

Poe taught us in that indiscernible tone
of our own planet vibrating on its
axis, that the stars of death still weep, and moan,
and weep again from their dust-filled eyes, and fists
of blood-red hydrogen. He said that Fate
ripples like the mirror of a lake, our heavy
drug-like lapses into life resting unsafe
on our oars, strapped against the tethered sky's sea.

And each night Orion's sword sweeps its silver
gear-like fiery roar of dismemberment
(through our atmosphere) from east to west, through
the oblong box of our frightened quiver,
descending with the prayers shattered in fragments
on our rooftops (though we never saw them move).




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