“Someone Else’s Stars,” “Hockey Night in Emmett County” and “Graceland”

Poetry by Andre F. Peltier

“Someone Else’s Stars,” “Hockey Night in Emmett County” and “Graceland”

Someone Else’s Stars

The sun is our center

bringing light and life.

Painted on the walls

of Lascaux caves,

the sun illuminates

the bulls

and the Magdalenian

artists.

Worshiped by naked pagans

in mid-winter dance,

her eight-minute flicker

renews the soul

and reminds the senses

of calming spring.

“Prepare to plow and sow,”

says the sun on the Winter

Solstice.

“Prepare for another

940 million km,”

she echoes through the void.

Days grow longer

as the axis allows

the angled gleam.

The axis allows those

seasonal shifts.

The axis on which we spin,

it is necessary and it is also

our center.

Not the sun only,

but our rotation too

permits us.

We spin and spin

in clumsy, drunken laughter

as those 940 million km

again blink by.

We spin and spin

but rarely stop to consider.

We are the center;

we gaze to the heavens

and project myth onto stars.

When Gan De sat

cataloguing the sky,

when Gan De saw

the four moons of Jupiter,

he understood the mysteries

of the void.

Gan De,

for a moment anyway,

glanced the vastness of

possibilities.

The vastness of the solar system;

the vastness of imagination.

The return gaze was

always-already

present in his Warring State.

Before the Spring,

before the Autumnal Era,

he saw through to the depths

of truth,

and it was out there

seeing through to him.

In The Book of Fixed Stars,

al-Sufi fixed the heavens.

A millennium ago,

al-Sufi picked up his glass

and cast his gaze starward.

A blur above Yemeni skies

with its obscured haze

and rotating lights,

the Large Magellanic Cloud

gazed back

and discovered the Arabian

Peninsula.

A nebulous sphere

gazed back

and discovered

al-Sufi al-so.

Corsono sat with pen

and glass bringing science to

Catalonian Jews.

Illuminating benighted lives;

illuminating the frum

Rabbi of Barcelona,

Valencia, Sicily.

The stars were their center.

Not the Star of David only,

but the twinkling darkness too.

They knew not of Proxima b

or Bernard’s Star.

They knew only their piety

and their prayers.

Proxima b knew not of

their Catalonian observers.

And what of the folks traveling

around Proxima b?

What of the folks who watch

Bernard’s Star rise and set

each day?

They, too, look skyward.

Like Gan De, al-Sufi,

Corsono,

they, too, gaze

into the vastness.

When they see our sun,

twinkling in the sable

field of dreams,

they connect its dot

to other twinkles.

Giving shape to the shapeless

expanse, we are

but a shoulder

or a hoof in

someone else’s

stars.

Hockey Night in Emmett County

Saturday afternoons

we met at 7-Eleven

with our gear and

frozen fingers.

Fifteen of us crammed

in the bed of an F-150,

the cap our only shield

from the screaming snow.

Across northern Michigan

this motley assortment of

fourth-grade fiascos

traveled to Charlevoix, Cheboygan,

Alpena.

The ponds solidified by

the Solstice;

even the big lakes were frozen.

Mackinac Island only accessible

by snowmobile:

a row of Xmas trees lined the way

across the straits.

Rogers City was the coldest though;

it was fifteen below,

yet they made us play.

The pick-up truck

skated over the old Trunkline

through Fingerboard, Afton,

and Onaway.

We fell out of the Ford,

loaded down with

bubblegum and Slurpees

(Slurpees warmer than the wind),

to don our shin-guards, sweaters,

and sticks.

We wore stocking caps

under our helmets

to no avail.

We doubled our socks

to no avail.

Ears numb from biting

February skies,

we took the ice

and stood our ground.

An hour later,

heading home again,

shivering and forlorn,

we licked our wounds

as tongues froze to hardened

iron skin.

That night,

drinking cocoa

and sharpening skates,

we dreamt of grand glory

under the frigid twinkling of

Gemini and Auriga.

“Next week,” we prayed,

“Next week we will be

victorious.”

Graceland

South from Dongola,

we drove through the sunset

and fireworks

to the dawn of

rock and roll.

North from Tupelo,

he road in on the

wings of angels

while seraphim sang,

“Son, that girl

you’re foolin’ with,

she ain’t no good for you.”

Memphis at dawn,

crossing the river

and crossing the line.

Hernando de Soto

slept here

and died here

on the banks.

Down in the Delta,

de Soto,

Castilian giant of a man,

died and was buried

among the reeds

and the crocodiles.

Memphis, too,

has buried kings.

North from Tupelo,

he took care of business.

We wandered the ground,

saw the gaudy

Christmas tree

and the maize and blue

television room.

We toured the Lisa Marie

and the racquetball court.

We passed the bar

to get to the racquetball court.

In the garden,

a young woman

wept at his grave.

Elvis was long dead

by the time she was born,

but she wept.

Perhaps she listened

to his old records with

her grandfather.

“Blue Moon of Kentucky,”

“Brown Eyed Handsome Man,”

“Blue Suede Shoes.”

Perhaps they listened

while she sat on his lap.

He smoked his cigarettes

and bobbed his head

while she stared into his eyes

and loved him.

He made her peanut butter

and banana sandwiches

as they listened to

“Heartbreak Hotel”

and worked in the garden.

He smelled of

aftershave and Beeman’s.

She rolled with laughter

as he tried to emulate

the great hip-shake

to the sounds of

“Hound Dog.”

He never caught a rabbit,

but she loved him anyway.

And she wept at the grave of

Elvis Presley.

About the Author

Andre F. Peltier

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Andre F. Peltier is a Lecturer III at Eastern Michigan University where he has taught African American Literature, Afrofuturism, Science Fiction, Poetry, and Freshman Composition since 1998. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI with his wife, children, turtles, dog, and cat. His poetry has appeared in Tofu Ink Press and is forthcoming in The Great Lakes Review, La Piccioletta Barca, Big Whoopie Deal, Prospectus, and an anthology from Quillkeepers Press. In his free time, he obsesses about soccer and comic books.