Last fall I remembered to watch the night sky
while walking through my desert garden.
I learned north for the first time
and I felt small and irresponsible
for not seeing sooner.
Mars spun up there for months, we passed
so close that he would follow me inside
& right into my poems. I was lost, then fierce
cleaning zinc out from under my fingernails,
shaking out the keyboard, a soft rain of silver.
The weather turned, I paid less attention
did my job, lost in lead
gravity of the calendar.
Sometime in spring hundreds of silver satellites
were thrown up into low orbit, astronomers said sky
would never dark the same but worldwide internet
coverage would be blazing.
When I looked again to check, Mars had spun out,
into southern horizon, somewhere distant & invisible
from the city, from the state of my birth.
It was later, in summer, in a tilt of earth
I shot across the land in a dirty comet
traveled & happened on Mars again, he had thrown
his body into the Patagonias & the whole range
blazed red when
men had already gone after him
at war with the mountains again
in the name of the same old gods
in the name of new jobs. Up around the scars
they were blasting out star shine in the chainlinked
orbited by a concertina of private security trucks
all tires & faces soaked in red planet dust
tunneling along the veins, zinc lead silver.
Down in Patagonia I stumbled dry river
walked orderly streets between
mining trucks & tiny libraries.
I complained of dim internet & drank.
I wrote poems shot through with planets
& police states, self doubts & mine shafts.
This town had been fighting over the mine
so long the bumper stickers faded
almost illegible by the time the mine
bought & sold again, opened finally
tilting the earth and shaking it out, a haze.
In the cowboy bar after midnight
with only Saturn watching
I danced lonely with the jukebox
shaking & northless
illegible body beaded
with droplets of sliver
dripping puddles of zinc
guilty as lead