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First Belz poetry reading, thanks for listening.


First in a series of poems about nebulae/outer space.

“Nebula Incarnate”

I wake in the night,
suddenly a nebula.

HELP I’m fleshless
dusty gaseous splendor flung out like abir at India’s festival of color
or if sorcerors bake, like the multicolored flour clouds summoned
when magical cookie dough sticks to the counter.
I am bigger than four solar systems,
in one of which, moments ago, I had been dreaming garbled reinventions of childhood films
in which the characters worry about dieting and organic farming.

Panic segues into epistemic crisis–
I don’t know how the hell I am cognizant, what neurons my now-cosmic brain possesses
to connect and fire ANYTHING let alone existential doubts across lightyears of space
(the thoughts-to-lightbulbs analogy notwithstanding, I’ve always suspected that thought travels faster than light).
The starlight flickers through my mass, refracting, twinkle, wink.
What, if any, are the viable emotions of celestial entities?

Space is calm, absent of sound but not empty
Partly because I hang here, dusty and opaque, blocking Earth’s hungry eyes
from the expanse humans inevitably use to seek answers to their otherwise unanswerable (extraterrestrial) questions.
But then I am aware– a cold finger down my proverbial spine,
the eureka appearing above my head like an asterisk inked cartoonishly in a daily newspaper–
of the Hubblerazzi, young astronomers pinning me up as their desktop background,
artists sighing in envy,
and students yawning because the dying projector bulb in the classroom doesn’t do me justice,
even with the shades down.

I’m famous! I shout(?) to the big empty
but secretly wishing I could go back  to sleep
(human nebulas, despite all else they can apparently do, can’t)
and wake again as the gloriously insignificant speck of dust I was before.

What I didn’t know out there in the expanding black
was that 93 million miles out from a yellow star
on a comparatively tiny green-blue sphere
on a continental landmass
in a somewhat arbitrarily-defined country in a further-defined
my body was kicking off the sheets and comforter,
her new owner feeling sunlight, atmosphere-warmed, come through curtains for the very first time.

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