by Eric Smith

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 PoemsSouthwest ReviewThe 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.