Winter 1999 • Vol. XXI No. 1 Poetry |

Field Guide to the Heavens

Tonight I am speaking in tongues again. Listen to all the stars with names as old as Mesopotamia: Rukbat Arkab, Nunki, Lesath, Shaula. They are shining forth in the Archer and the Scorpion. They are ablaze in the southern sky. The Scorpion rests his tail on some trees and a streetlight. Now and then when I go inside to warm some coffee or toast some bread, I read a few snatches of Milton, who laments death as the loss of intellect, who says, Are not the towers of heaven filled with armed watch? I am looking for certain signs, certain deliriums. This Scorpion is the same that stung mighty Orion to death. This Archer pursues him for all eternity, in his left hand the bow, in his right, the flaming arrow. This region is rich and manifold. In this direction lies the center of our galaxy, a holy fire. Aloof the vulgar constellations thick, says Milton, and I walk outside again. The ducks over in the park are raving mad. Their sounds float on the nightwind. The neighbors sleep in one anot

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Frank X. Gaspar is an American poet, novelist, and professor of Portuguese descent. His most recent novel is Stealing Fatima (Counterpoint press, December, 2009). His collection of poetry, Night of a Thousand Blossoms (Alice James Books, 2004) was one of twelve books honored as the "Best Poetry of 2004" by Library Journal. His most recent collection of poems is Late Rapturous, from Autumn House Press.

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