Issue 6: Cosmology (Jan-Feb 2016) is an unthemed issue featuring poetry, prose, videos, and artwork from writers and artists around the world.
On New Year’s Day — Christopher Woods
Frost Flowers — Sandy Coomer
Ghosts of Home — Kim Mannix
Cosmology — Laura M. Kaminski
Time Capsule — Bill Waters
Memories — Angelee Deodhar
Chesapeake Beach in October — Andrea Wyatt
Three Crows and a Storm — Joan Leotta
Black Sun Rising — Darrell Urban Black
Wyvern — Holly Day
The Lesson — Natalie d’Arbeloff
Somnolence — Yesha Shah
the heart’s trails — Herb Kauderer
untide— David Kelly
Herring — Elizabeth McMunn-Tatangco
Ripples — Olivier Schopfer
Resting — Mary McCarthy
Rush-hour — Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy
Closed Sign at Bill’s Bait & Beer — Trish Saunders
Discovered/Uncovered — Fabrice Poussin
Reading Whitman on Roque Island — Dervishspin
found poems — Duncan Richardson
Mural with Matching Sky — Jean Morris
Pinned — George Yatchisin
Transmission — Marie Craven
Sister Speed Racer and the Silent Brides of Christ — Michael Whiteman-Jones
End of the Road — Debbie Strange
When I was very young, living in Virginia, my dad woke me up in the middle of the night to go outside and look through the telescope. He had it pointing at Saturn, and for the first time, I saw the rings. This was back when the Voyager probes were sending images back from the gas giants, the days of Skylab and the Viking missions. Back then, it was easy to imagine that someday I would travel to the planets.
Those starry nights along with thrilling days spent at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum ignited one of the longest running passions of my life: astronomy.
Eventually, Skylab fell, the Moon got farther away, NASA went from exploring to transporting, the speed of light remained inviolable, and I gave up on thinking I would ever travel the stars. But I kept reading. I kept peering out through the telescope, every winter staring for hours on end at the Pleiades and the star nursery of Orion.
In college I took a bunch of astronomy courses. I’m no astrophysicist, and these were the kinds of courses geared for non-science majors so the classes were filled with an interesting mix of people trying to satisfy science credit requirements without having to do math, potheads looking to have their minds blown, and people like me who grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek, Pioneer, Viking, and Voyager. Looking up in wonder at the universe.
My love of observational astronomy developed into a fascination with the bizarre nature of theoretical and quantum physics that always led me back to astronomical weirdness: neutron stars, quasars, magnetars, black holes, radio galaxies. Thinking about this stuff is to ponder the very nature of existence, and it always made me feel like I was studying metaphors as much as the physical universe.
That sense of wonder has never left me. When I look at Hubble images, sunsets and mountains on Mars photographed by rovers, or the moon hanging in the bare elm branches on winter nights, I can’t help but be amazed and filled with curiosity and wonder. Needless to say, Laura M. Kaminski’s wonderful poem “Cosmology” captures that perfectly and spoke to me very deeply and not just about what’s up there, but what’s in here (picture me tapping on my heart).
So it seems literature and art are part of cosmology too in some sense, I think. Not in the physical way, of course, but on the human scale where we attempt to know and understand the universe and our tiny corner of it as we whirl around on this “pale blue dot” as Carl Sagan so aptly described it.
We look out the window and there’s that world out there. And we try so hard to make sense of it. That’s how this issue felt to me… a cosmology made of twenty-seven ways of knowing. Parts of a grand theory, maybe.
Thank you for being a part of this, and as always…
With gratitude and thanks,
James Brush, editor
Confession: I realized as I was writing this that about half of it had already been written and posted to my blog ten years ago, so I repurposed some of what I’d written then. Here’s the old post: The Universe in a Nutshell