Hosting the Stranger

Volume 4 ~ 2011

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from “Seasons of Mars”

Stephen Sartarelli


The world is an open wound

Not just Jerusalem, but
everywhere we break time,
force the threshold of the moment,
breach the fragile skin
of continuity.


There’s a red glow in the East
where we want darkness,
a century’s flare
to light the way
for heavy feet.

Cows low loud and angry
after the storm,
dogs bark in distraction.

We steal their young
and slaughter them
for convenience or food.

Half-moon sets
on great vapor-wings
from the West and the ocean,
the stars indifferent
streaking overhead.

Feet to northward
on an ascending slope,
body on the axis
of the Milky Way
as if at home,

I lie down
on the brittle ground
of a deadly summer,
weightless as though flying
in a dream,

seek momentary refuge
in the tenuous shadow
of Cassiopaeia.


A five-century blaze
on the Western flank
and deep chasms of mist
evaporate to nothing

with only the great dome
as witness.

We lie alone
with the mineral god
on simple beds
of grass on limestone,

await no spawn from this union.

Within the enveloping dark,
sphere of our imprisonment,
we act and react
with no effect
on the endless turning,

leave the faintest of traces
soon gone in the night.

And still our ravages
stain the sky deep—

horizons flee hellward
from the tiny anti-sun
rising in false parallel
to earth,
screaming eye
in the sky’s beginning,
hole in the night’s dark skull.

Noise of the spheres
our great clatter below.

I turn to the West,
light’s limitless grave,
let trees block the planet.


In this life of green
obscured by night
I lie unpossessed,
open vessel of clay

in the coursing vacuum,
void of a void,
hole in a hole,

castaway seed
hurtling fast

in a pocket of air
frail cushion of life


The Bear rests over the ocean,
shears far from the Dog Star.

The Bear rests on mind-blossoms,
holds the Seven Sisters captive

as love and beauty flee
behind the sun.

Babylon falls upon Babylon,
new death upon old,

as if to sever the day
from time’s loom.

The conquering angel
leaves no Palmyra in his wake

but only spirits splendor
away from the water,
strikes deep inside
the planet’s core,

far from our broken thoughts.

His monument shall be
the rift in the air.