182.1: Daniel Altenburg:: Australia 15 (Dead Night Scatter) & Cargo & Australia 6: The Dream 182

When we look up at the night sky, we are looking up at victims. They may be shackled in stars, jointed by light, but they are still the patterns that have been formed after torture and rape. Daniel Altenburg's poems this week operate within the stratospheric depths beneath this sad empyrean. Engine burn­off, sexual violence, and Classical allusions mark the liminal spaces between gods and mortals, between desire and its consequences. Altenburg reimagines our trips to the stars through alternative examples. Mothballed spacecraft, sexual histories, and the bodies of astronauts chart the hidden costs of progress, the tradeoffs of history that so often go unmentioned. Amidst the detritus, Altenburg discovers light in burning embers rather than the twinkling stars. He discovers lyricism. He discovers a path, even, toward humaneness. Ryan Winet

Australia 15 (Dead Night Scatter)


This is the one that starts with me being imperfect
and ends as such. Where your mouth moves a wisp
through the machine,
the nuanced sound over the bar crowds’ heads. The patrons
paint you spirit. Spirit, Esmė, the reduced fragrance
of engine burn-off,
                               speech.

This is the one with my incisors loosening
to fall against the visor.
Where you hear a soft clank and assume another bra strap clasp,
another belt chime.

I coat my visor in gold.
A kiss cracks on a forehead,
                                              the music.
You press on each eye
to brighten the nebulae.
And then something—something dear
                                     but American: Sputnik
teething its metal sphere in winter,
amongst the clamor of snow-burdened pines.
And over its alloy whinnying
you speak.

Where I’m trying to conjure weightlessness,
but you keep calling from across the field.
Echoes off the silo,
corn stalk hulls,
a father’s auger’s flighting,
my wind-blown teeth
that whistle the day done.





Cargo


And wisdom reclines with the dust. The canopy
sheens. A young hand writes “Wash Me,”
but this is the boneyard, baby,
and our shit is mothballed in the off chance we’ll need a fleet
of 141s, 130s, 17s, 5s,
Starlifter, Hercules, Globemaster, Galaxy (respectively).

Yes, I do believe you’ve mentioned your mythos,
spasmodically. Numbers correlate
to a craft type, a creationism
fated by a rough finger swirling this loose black hole.

“This is it,” you blithe. That’s all wisdom ever is. The scrap
towards coalescence. History melts it and Frank sells it
back in tongues:

Do not ask how many she’s been with,
as knowledge reminds
you are not a special boy. Despite it,
judge that tight paradox: love her
for her current state, hate her for the same.
You say, “This is not fair,” and you’re right,
Esmė. But how dare you speak
your marred history. Passengers
file a narrow walkway. Then goes the liner.
The cum accumulates in a stomach;
there goes the lining. That’s not how bodies work,
but we can invent new ways,
build vestigial hate to love you by.

                                                        As if I can take off this flight suit,
this passenger suit, celebrate your fine empennage. Esmė,
run off to Enceladus, I hear the beings there
will slip you bliss through cabin windows. Let the adults
stay and churn the night into maturity.
Look out at the FOD walk.
The ground crew still marshals their glowing sticks forward.





Australia 6: The Dream


Howbout when you gave me a cup of clichés
and ladled a baby in,
                                     and writhing amongst the broth!

To each his own, I guess.
Too large to eat, miss,
                                     and aborted.

There’s a dead astronaut joke in there,
coiled breathing tube, bronzed countenance, the dumpling
of muscle, but Esmė
just hand me an empty cup, and please

stop dripping your blood into craters
for the whole pagan planet to rejoice about.

I send off the dream, Lunnik, with a kiss,
and you bloom your hands expectant.

I rename her Mechta, the new planet,
as she is no longer my little moon.

You’re right; this is about possession.
The rain filling the painted cup you’ve allowed
visitors.

And I hear “drink” but don’t,
crater as another cave,

creator as another conflation of create
her
. To each his own

demon
as harness; his own spawn

to hemorrhage.
‘The uselessness of explaining a dreamt dream, babe.’

It’s beautiful, Esmė, watching a girl leave
her geocentric orbit.

And you say, “A kiss? For old times’ sake?”
in the most ardent care for your neonate(s).