“Encounter on a Wednesday” was the first poem I brought to poetry workshop, 30 years ago, give or take a few Wednesday. Poppy for remembrance; annotations for sleepwalking.
photo courtesy of The Guardian
A silly poem in honor of Pluto.
When mortals pretend to know everything
the gods cannot but laugh at silliness.
And how we are called the names of bodies–
our celestial immortality
becomes preserved regardless then of fate.
Two schools of thought–one embraces the old
notion of nine planets, with me, Pluto
in the rear. Spherical, elliptically
orbiting the sun–and yet large enough
to hold myself together with gravity.
The other theory calls me comet-like,
asteroid-esque, or minor planet-ish
anomaly made up of ice and rock.
Take, for instance, my odd loop which orbits
the sun and so perhaps I should have been
a ballerina. If I act more like
one thing than another, then could I be
the first thing, not the second. Never mind
about that. I say look to history:
Cast by non believers down to the rank
of myth, then cast from darkened underworld
where I began my reign so long ago.
In ancient times benevolent gods were
laughed upon, while gods with wrath inside them
took their place on Mount Olympus–brothers
Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, were all known
giants. Jupiter, the lord of thunder,
ruled supreme. Neptune, ruler of the sea,
commanded waves of power, beckoned storm
upon storm; then I, brother three, did draw
for my fair share of the underworld, where
I remained long, free, and terrible. King
of the dead, resurrected by old men,
astronomers who look to see and find
objects buried deep into space until
technology is fortunate enough
to see and bargain for history’s sake.
I am Pluto, damnit, mightiest king
of the dead of dead. Place me in your sky
oh man, and be satisfied. Resurrect
my name for purposes divine and sell
your soul to me. If I am not a planet
true, then let me be false, as falsity
has meaning, too. Let me have my planet
hood. Be gone, you comet thinkers, asteroid
lovers, crazies: to thine own selves be true,
you who deny my right to sit as rock
and ice, at just the end of that old world.
Do not use my name and abandon me
here, far in the sky, without the proper
acknowledgement. For I will spill on you
the wrath of death and you will find yourselves
heretics, alone, in my underworld.