Astronomy in the Seventeenth Century
You sit in a kimono-like silk robe,
observe the Dragon, Hercules, the Bear
and Lyra on your multicolored globe,
and eavesdrop as they speak of an elsewhere
beyond your ken. A manual on the table
is open to the saying, "inspiration
from God," a practicable guide to enable
a man to learn the stars and navigation.
How dare you go against the sacred scheme,
commit attempts to learn about the earth,
the nature of the suns and worlds that beam
their facts to prying scientists? A dearth
of hands-on research is what they expect.
Is that the reason you've no telescope?
God's frightened His whole system could be wrecked
if you don't wash your notions out with soap.
The globe now, in slow motion, detonates,
the constellations flung every which way.
You fall as your gray matter vacillates
between the urge to blaspheme or to pray.
This poem won second place in the 2010 Science Fiction Poetry Association contest.
Martin Elster is a percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Autumn Sky, Better Than Starbucks, Cahoodaloodaling, Poetry Quaterly, The Flea, The Road Not Taken, and in various anthologies, including Taking Turns: Sonnets from Eratosphere, The 2012 and 2015 Rhysling Anthologies, New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan, Poems for a Liminal Age, and the Potcake Chapbooks. Honors include co-winner of Rhymezone’s 2016 poetry contest, winner of the Thomas Gray Anniversary Poetry Competition 2014, third place in the SFPA’s 2015 poetry contest, and three Pushcart nominations.
The Ekphrastic Review
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