Tag Archives: American poetry

Ascent special issue, November, 2019

W. Scott Olsen is turning over the editorship of Ascent magazine after 25 years, and goes out with a special issue, including some compelling work from mainly American writers. I was a colleague of Scott at Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota, when he took over Ascent, already established for forty years or more, and moved it from Chicago.

Here are my three poems from the issue, all rather starry eyed, with links to the rest of the issue.

Stardust

I met a woman who said she stole
her father’s ashes from her mother’s home
spread them under her father’s microscope and saw
phosphorus constellations
shining.

 

 

Event Horizon

Does anything momentous happen
in the moment everything changes,
when a falling body crosses the line
between light and dark?

In the moment everything changes
is it an event at all
between light and dark?
Like the instant in debate

(is it an event at all?)
when you realize what you’ve said
– this instant in debate –
is fatal to your cause.

When you realize what you’ve said
and all your good reasons are past recall,
it’s fatal to your cause.
Or like one of those days

when all your good reasons are past recall
and nothing seems to happen.
Or like one of those days
you later see as the decisive moment

when nothing seems to happen
as a falling body crosses the line.
Later you see it’s the decisive moment,
the moment everything happens.

 

 

Broken Windows

(poem ending with a line by Louise Glück)

Shattered glass. And within each shard
a whole world of street and sky.

My mother laughs.
My father smokes.

Outside the house, with the slam of a door,
life begins.

On winter nights Orion chases across the sky.
Rigel, Betelgeuse. What’s the other?

The walk back from the bar alone is proof
the universe is expanding.

Leaves fall, then snow.
You want to know if there’s Christmas on other planets.

And if love is the answer.
Who said anything sillier, or better?

Find solace in that. Or in the poet’s words,
“the great plates invisibly shifting and changing.”

Three Poems ~ Colin Morton