Light Pollution


Astrology teaches that stars have meaning,

lights have cause, effect.

When I was a kid,

looking for the lost treasure of Joaquin Moraga

through storm drains under the hills,

sometimes the darkness would get me.


In my parent’s yard, the pool

reflected the candle light

from a clay minaret they had.

It was a spell my father made;

he would someday ride the Khyber Mail.

Shadows of fence and hills made it possible.


Ursa Minor is tied to a post,

turning around Polaris.

Is it my eyes that are fading?

Was it easier to see those stars

in the old darkness?  Were they brighter?

Maybe the sky was blacker.


I can afford new lenses if I work

long and hard for The Company.

Doctors will tell me

if my eyes are getting worse.

And insurance will pay for part

of the work at the appointed time.


By buildings, in alleys,

street lamps don’t reach.

Dark patches open up sky

for the garbage.  Shadows have the beauty

of dangers unseen.  Cops will roust

back into the lights.


Between cities, land is owned;

you must not stop too long.  Headlights

from passing cars push at eyes.

They move from one ghetto

of wire-filaments to the next vacuum:

angry photons in an energy jump.


Alone in the darkness as the retina-burn fades,

an answer to blindness opens in the sky.

The black cranium of night is awash with synaptic fire,

just before falling away from sharpness,

back into the shadows of light.

The universe is still there.


No need for The Company’s wage

to buy the reason behind the loss of sight.

The horizon is marked by cities,

floating skulls of fluorescent pallor

confusing the image of sky.

They’re stealing my stars.


first published in Living With a Stranger: self portrait, 1993.

About johnsmithiiimxiii

John Smith, IIMXIII is the avatar of an award winning poet, artist, etc. who still lives in the Palouse country of the Pacific NW. He has not received much notice with his prose . . . but as his avatar, I hope that he keeps plugging along.

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