Jun 7

Learning the Planets


by Len Roberts The planets whirled across the blackboard all morning, Saturn with its twelve rings, Jupiter with its belts, red Mars, green Venus, the familiar blue Earth where we sat in that eighth-grade class learning light years, 8 light minutes for the sun’s rays to touch my arm, Alpha Centauri 4.4 light years away, Betelgeuse, the giant red star in Orion’s shoulder,300, Rigel, the blue giant in Orion’s knee, 540, the vastness of blackness suddenly ours while Richie Reese picked his nose and lovely Karen Awlen hitched up her dress. Infinity and eternity blurred by the sun in dull yellow chalk as I felt the pull of the planets and their moons hold me in my desk where carved hearts orbited with the names of those I did not know, Jimmy loves Sue, Tina and Barry circled by a ring of smoke drifting up from a speeding Chevy, I Love My Dog, Snookie, etched in small, straight lines by the inkwell. 1944, 1946, 1950, 53, 56, each year trailed names the way Halley’s comet trailed light that October morning, and I carved Lorraine, 1958, with a crescent moon cupping it while Sister Angelica told us Copernicus knew the Earth was a wanderer, Galileo the first to see the phases of Venus, sunspots‚ telling us about the Black Hole that sucked all light into it, spreading her black-winged arms and wrapping Margaret Blake to show her what it was like, unfolding Margaret’s chalk-white face when she began to cry the face that would begin to glow white in a few years and then fade, cancer of the lungs they said but we all knew it was the blackness she saw back in that class, blackness revolving in Sister’s heart, blackness of distances we could not even imagine, blackness we heard even then in Margaret’s sobs while cosmic clouds floated on the board with the label,“raw material of creation,” where stars were born and died, and planets whirled on their inevitable paths.

New Posts
  • "Our Streets Don’t Cross" I reached out a hand and the tips of her fingers timidly brushed my palm. What is it that’s revealed to her in people’s palms that confuses her so? Do they clench in a fist about to deal a blow? Do their fingers spread out like the legs of a spider to show her the money they hold? I cannot imagine her smiling. Have words only ever reached her though bared teeth? She sleeps rough, yet her clothes look clean, cleaner than mine, actually: does she take showers in strangers’ bathrooms until every trace of them is washed away? Our streets don’t cross and our underpasses are empty, each in a different way. But can we imagine that one day things could be different? Could she hug her child in the mornings and fall asleep with him every evening? Could she go to a movie and laugh along with everyone else? Could I send her a link to a song? But this is not important. I only hope she can breathe whenever she wants to. I stopped thinking about it and decided to open the window to let in the fresh air. No wind rushed in. At least we suffocate the same. Written originally in Bulgarian, translated by Vladimir Poleganov. The whole project is here: https://issuu.com/svetoslav.todorov/docs/tenconversationszine
  • Industrial waste Passing through Метал , we’re watching patches of sky through empty factory windows. Or abstract colour patches – they’re carpets, clothes out to dry – showing signs of lives persisting in the apartment blocks trackside. * Crossed hammers on a rooftop are what’s left of former glories spelled out in one last slogan enduring from those times: the dignity of labour in the mines. * Precisely on the hour we’re underground. Water pumps, cutters, extractor fans are just so much relic machinery. We’re reading museum labels. The light at the end of this tunnel is another searing June day. For now we’re out of the sun, cool in these galleries that once were hot and noisy as hell – a hell all but one hope had abandoned. * Crushed cans, rolling bottles, rubbish strewn across a podium – they’re overlooked by poets and their famous words: exhortations to build new worlds from a century back or more. It’s as if they might rise above remains of a new economy – the one that shut factories, mines, left populations adrift in apartment blocks skirting a town in search of its fresh purpose. Pernik, 22 June 2019
  • Guys, this is the book I told you about. If you Google it, there are some pages of it uploaded to get a glimpse: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercises_in_Style It is published in Bulgarian too, Упражнения по стил, I have it somewhere or maybe I've borrowed it to someone, I have no idea. But it's a great book!

+359 883 496 235

©2019 by Part Time Language & Culture Center