Lunacy: Poems on the Moon
We’re bones in October,
toys for the wind
whose fists pound children
to the ground,
bell the pleated skirt
I wear in fifth grade,
blasting my ears with
a desert people’s
The wind disorders me,
fills my lunchbox with
cactus quills, scatters
the blessed objects
that keep this small
uneasy habitat safe
from the gunpowder sky,
ready to explode.
[First published at Atticus Review, 2014]
Blood Moon, Flare, Coyote
The blood moon was heavy
in the sky. A coyote darted in front
of us in the car on the way to the hospital.
I learned this disaster was named “flare,”
like a solar flare, blazing in the brain,
creating bright halos of inflamed nerves,
causing messages to darken, flame out –
legs, vision, uncertain hands fumbling,
dizzy, ready to fall. Like the moon itself
was falling out of the sky there, not set
among the stars but jarred, uncertain.
It has betrayed us, no longer a bright beacon
but a prophesy where the moon is dark as blood,
a witch’s sign, a bad omen, a magic
you cannot hold safely within you.
Afterwards, I’ll Turn Off the Moon
leads to sadness. You said this,
said I wore ambivalence
on my mouth. I’m slipping
under and you’re balancing
the checkbook. I am broken
glass and you are the dust
pan trying to pick me up. It’s late
and you want my silhouette,
the line from my ribs to follow
to my thigh—all I have to offer
is sorrow, all I have is a lesson
in light. You say you are starkly
wounded, so I try
to show you how
the moon glows
over my shoulder, how
the quiet of the night didn’t
unsettle me. When you whisper again
every outcome leads to sadness, I know
none of it is true, but all of it is.
Blue vase falling from the kitchen
counter, the particular chatter
of cleaning up—the sweep of broom
and the music of minor keys. The glass
rattling as you empty the pan, silence
above us as the nightlight glows away.
The Moon Remembers
“I sing and the moon shudders.”
Li Po, “Drinking Alone by Moonlight”
The moon does not approve of elementary choir
masters who stop the rehearsal, make each quivering
child sing a solo to find the one
who is off key. The helpless moon, marooned
so far away, wishes she could offer sanctuary.
The moon knows what the choir master forgets.
The moon doesn’t understand scales or the division
of voices into the caste systems of chorus:
superior sopranos, dowdy altos, basses as the bubble
of depth holding us up, the star tenor.
The moon remembers what the choir master forgets.
The moon sees our best selves as we sing:
the lonely driver late at night, singing to stay awake,
the melancholy mother, humming Christmas carols
to cheer the babies, the desperate lover
serenading the empty window.
The moon remembers what we all forget.
The moon knows that if we believed in our songs,
strengthened our fragile voices, and sang
as if we meant it, then galaxies would blow
to bits as the universe expands.
Another Poem About the Moon
The moon has unlocked the next level
despite my best intentions,
despite believing everything is okay,
just say, everything is okay,
and the moon will nod.
The last thing I’ll sacrifice is sacrifice.
In a space of what we measure, I subtract
fear and add pleasure,
desire is more than a potluck,
people showing up
with another bowl of hummus.
When the forest was clearcut by loggers
the moon decorated the tree stumps
with its glow.
Sometimes even good lighting
can’t fix what was lost.
Hesitation brings a sloppy woodland,
a lost conversation,
someone running their hand across your thigh—
you wanted /didn’t want that?
While the forest died
our town was overrun by deer
This is why I’m not surprised
to find a young buck wearing a daisy chain
on his antlers when I answer the door.
Do the thing that makes you stand out.
Undress your fear and walk under the moon.
Everything is okay, the fog says
as the moon cuts through it, everything
and the sunflowers are blooming, everything
and the moon keeps showing up.
Jeannine Hall Gailey on the Moon at EIL
“Hunter’s Moon,” by Erica Goss was part of the 12 Moons project, a collaborative series at Atticus Review, also featured at Moving Poems. Here is a link to one of the short films connected to that event! Poem (“Cold Moon”) by Erica Goss, film by Swoon, voice by Nic Sebastian, music by Kathy McTavis:
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