Astropoetica: Mapping the Stars through Poetry


Tunguska  impact site

Credit: Leonid Kulik expedition

The fourth thunder
was the thunder
most like thunder.

                                    Nickel and light searing a
                                    broken atmosphere.  Bog craters,
                                    millions of fallen trees.

After the first thunder
our clothes were hot.
I wanted to look

                                    Nearly two decades later
                                    Leonid Kulik found
                                    silicate, magnetite,

at the trees
but their branches were on fire
and ash was falling in our eyes.

                                    and nickel extra-terrestrial
                                    in origin in bog peat
                                    near the river.

I shielded my eyes
from the bright vivid shapes.
The second thunder tossed us

hard.  The strong wind
came.  A sound like birds
flying overhead, like

                                    Millions of fallen trees
                                    and millions of others
                                    stripped to blackened boles.

travelling birds.  “Did you hear
the birds flying overhead?”
I asked my brother.

                                    Yet “time flows
                                    because no set
                                    of proofs

The ground at dusk
like a pustulance through gauze.
Nobody arrived for a very long time.

                                    can be complete.”
                                    Holes exposing charred
                                    root systems of trees.

I walked with Kulik
and saw this life
was very small and very large.

I’m told there were more pressing things
than studying this place—
a revolution, many wars to fight.

                                    The meteor decohered
                                    it ever struck.

                                    In Europe
                                    they reported
                                    several vivid nights.

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Cal Freeman received his MFA from Bowling Green State University in 2004. That year Terrance Hayes selected his manuscript for the Devine Poetry Fellowship. His poems have appeared in many journals including Commonweal, The Journal, Nimrod, The Cortland Review, Hotel Amerika, Ninth Letter, New Ohio Review, and Birmingham Poetry Review. In 2007, his manuscript, In the Red Lion's Shadow, was a finalist for the Wick Poetry Prize. More recently, ML Liebler nominated his book, Brother of Leaving, for the Wayne State University Press Made in Michigan Series. He has also been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.