March 20_Silver Stars

See the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project to read the poems for March 20, 2014 by scrolling down to “Day 20/Poems 20” and of course, to read my poem: Silver Stars / by John C. Mannone

Backstory to “Silver Stars”:

It wasn’t this spring equinox, but a former one that has left an indelible impression on me. Around 9 PM on March 20, 2007, while driving north on I-75 in east TN between Chattanooga and Knoxville, where the sky is normally dark, I noticed a clear, but virtually starless night. Off to the west, a thin crescent moon hung in the sky just a few degrees under a solitary bright object, which I recognized to be Venus. I was grieved by the granulated sky and the light pollution that had taken away one of the delights for me—the starry heavens. Spring had just commenced (8:07 PM EDT) and I thought that’s one heck of a way of ushering in the new season.

I have written many poems about the night sky: about t’s awesomeness, and about the vagaries of light pollution. Now, as I reflect on that night, on this spring equinox, when light pollution has worsened, I write this poem. It’s another one to be added to my Nightsongs collection. Perhaps it’s a bit of a hyperbole—equating light pollution as a sin against nature—but some things I feel rather strongly about.

The poem plays on the religious imagery because of that sentiment, while at the same time the poem runs a metal-metaphor initiated by my visualization of the “bright and morning”* star (Venus) as a coin being tossed into a church collection plate (that lunate dish).

There is no particular reason for structuring the poem with tercets except that the poem needs breathing room for those image-rich lines. Couplets would have worked if the breaks allowed it. But I could not sustain the poem in couplets. Tercets seemed to be a good compromise. There are no remarkable line breaks, but the ones chosen seemed natural for the needed breathing pauses. In other words, a prose poem format would result in sensory overload and render a failed poem. So in this case, the breaks are driven by image and pacing (normal breathing-length lines), and of course, the related and very important thing called rhythm.

* I use the “bright and evening star” because that is correct, too, because Venus is usually a morning or evening object.

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