A sci-fi poem for National Poetry Day

Filed on October 3, 2012 - Comments (0)

space chaplain

by James McGonigal


through the northern lights my eye caught beams
of bright and dark like the crown of horny rays
the sun makes from a silvered cloud —
                              though luminous these
did not dim the clearness of our target in the Bear
                                                  but rose
radiating slightly out from the earth line

in soft pulses of light
one after another passing upwards
arched in shape but waveringly and with the arch
that seemed to float       not following the warp
of the sphere as falling stars appear to do
but free             concentrical

such busy workings of nature
independent of the earth and stretched in a strain
of time not reckoned by days or years but simpler —
as if correcting the preoccupations of the world
by being preoccupied only with           and appealing to
and dated to                     the touchdown day of judgment —

a witness to the Zone that fills me with delightful fear




This poem is forthcoming in Where Rockets Burn Through: Contemporary Science Fiction Poems from the UK – edited by Russell Jones and published by Penned in the Margins in November 2012.

draft cover

James McGonigal is a Glasgow-based poet, editor and critic. He has published on Ezra Pound and Basil Bunting, Scottish religious poetry and Scots-Irish writing. Recent work includes his biography of Edwin Morgan, Beyond the Last Dragon (Sandstone Press, 2010, 2012), and Cloud Pibroch (Mariscat Press, 2010).

National Poetry Day is Thursday 4th October and this year’s theme is STARS.

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