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R.J. McCaffery


Alba During Georgian August Hailstorm

From a seeming clear sky:  hail granules.
Marble-sized blue beads of ice
form a core which while falling
jelled and jacketed a sheath of jagged crystal
from humid air about them.
They dash off leaves, skitter and smash against car windows,
and plink into warm standing pools of water
where they melt and sublimate.

The gibbous moon is low.  Copernicus' dimple
reaches bright ejecta towards lesser shining Kepler,
and below
Mares Nectaris and Fecunditatis
dark crab claw the bright Montes Pyrenaeus
as they have since men saw celestial animals;
spirit guides and shapes of desire
in volcanic seas and craterstrewn wreckage.

Sea of Serenity, Bay of Rainbows, even named
they hold only in imagination
-radiating forward
as the past arcs back into first clear certainty
then bent by want to dream and fantasy;
though I know the moon is dead,
that ice falls before the sun in summer Georgia,
both are less real to me than this:
at this moment of day, a full million years ago
perhaps feet from (or ghosting through) me
a shaggy bison nuzzled under kneedeep snow
for splintery strands of grass and rolled its wet eye
through the steam of its breath
to the globe low on the horizon
and forgot the wolves just past, anxiety of hunt,
as the deep blue of pre-dawn faded
to the orange sun streaming, ramshackle, over drifts.



Goddard with rocket.Goddard's Rocket

I was beaten, hammered to hold liquid air.
Goddard, father of my flight,
(lungs not-yet burdened by labored breath)
smiled to see my simple attempt;
a man could hurl a stone higher than I flew.
My terrestrial audience, a terrified cow,
scrambling from a crackpot Clark student
and his tubed terror.  Goddard had
enough confidence in his calculations,
to write, a foothold will be found in vacuum,
liquid fuel will push more soundly than solid.
My father wouldn't survive to see
our flight far above Earth, or the fear
we thundered across London.


R.J. McCaffery lives in Athens, Georgia.  When not puttering about restoring vintage bicycles, he edits Eye Dialect and teaches online poetry classes.
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