That summer or spring, before or after the shuttle bloomed, we learned that a body in flight worships only velocity. Having forgotten the equation that solved for God, everything we felt then was scripted in a room missing one wall. The stars burned like tiny televisions. After the credits, we watched as the sky, black as bruises, lost its narrative arc. We terraformed the backwaters of syndication, and sawed the hours in half to free them of improvisation. Fate threaded its contrail to the pale altar at which we, trembling, lay our trembling, and we fed our children to the reruns of a dream. In their rest there was an innocence, sheared from sleep, soothing as the bulb tonguing the socket. Such stars we catapulted to the heavens in bright thousands to colonize the night, rocketing against all that nothing with only the promise of mid-season renewal. To see heroes pinned to the body’s outlines eventually erased by rain was to see, in the cruiser light that stained us with caution and concern, that ours was the witness, ours the laughter in its can. The sun was a white tablet fizzing in dusk’s glass. The sky’s menagerie grew restless. And when the satellite fell from the nadir of its aging blazon, we trained all the glass eyes starved of light on bodies in slow arcs at the outer edge of their ardor, on the horizon where the last of the light succumbed to static, and everyone got what was coming to them in the finale, tomorrow or next year or never which will, far faster than we ever imagined, arrive.

ERIC SMITH’s poems have been published in 32 Poems, Southwest Review, The New Criterion, and the Best New Poets anthology. His critical prose appears in Pleiades and The Rumpus, and is forthcoming in the AWP Writers’ Chronicle. He was a founding editor of cellpoems, the innovative and award-winning poetry journal distributed via text message, and he has received scholarships and fellowships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Convivio, among others.  He is an assistant professor of English at Marshall University, in Huntington, West Virginia, and divides his time between West Virginia and a home in North Carolina.