PoetryIssue 23 | November 2015

Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat

Visiting the Outer Space Exhibit in Bonn on New Year’s Day 2015

What should we be without the help of that which does not exist? Paul Valéry

There was a bed that folded out of what appeared
to be an upright piano
but on closer look was a control panel,

which reminded me of the concert
I’d attended the evening before, where
the drum resembled a giant spool of thread,

reverberating in a coppery, Jovian hue,
Brahms’s Hungarian Dance #5 wheeling in its wild trajectory,

and I asked myself why planets are round, not
triangular, squared-off, or pronged.

Is it aerodynamic? Thusly they turn without obstacle?
Is there a planet shaped like a pancake somewhere,
as the ancients presumed?

There was a photo of Valentina Tereshkova
at her vanity, the Soviet cosmonaut
sitting in a party dress; she deserves a party,

a bucket of moondust flung at her feet,
a glass of champagne sparkling with small explosions.

For the kids, there was a display
of fictional aliens, and blotchy, far-away photos of UFOs.

There was a wooden sphere you could slip into, notched
on the outside with charts and graphs.

The usher had a kind face, the face
of a man born to be a shepherd or grandfather.
He used a staff to prop open the trap door,

guiding the pilgrims in. I lined up for a turn inside,
and was nearly there when my husband came by.

We removed our shoes and ducked into the dark
ball whose inside blinked
with minuscule stars, making it cold

and warm at the same time, a cosy infinity,
and for all I know the universe is strung with lights
exactly like this

or some other dazzling
pattern of the imagination, which buoys us
with what does not exist.

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About the author

Sarah J. Sloat lives in Germany.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok