Patrick Cole

The Asteroids

It’s a dirty machine, the universe— 

proof of its unclean cogging is seen

in the bits it spits off, the dirt it flings

from its levering arms: Asteroids.


Asteroids which flee ass over end

to be crater-battered by countless others

and break away piecemeal and plummet

into unsuspecting forgetful planets


who dreamed the last million millennia

until they believed in pure black, utter

lack, silent gravity and the non-greasy 

lubricant of infinity. But it’s not so.


Everything clamors and clangs, tears

and burns. Vastness is no excuse. The evidence

is everywhere, giant rocks whizzing by, fleeing, 

stumbling through unfiltered space like the sparks


from rustic construction. Rocks: the unwhole,

the broken, the residue of the out of control:

Rough, random and often gigantic. Debris.

Because something is happening, and the mess


is the message: stand back, look out, it’s no better

out there than down here: Born, then worn; stable

then labile; rhythmic, asynchronic; pristine

then unclean; rhyming, then not, not at all.


Try asking an asteroid, a refugee from some 

fusion furnace, now too dead-panicked

to speak though it must want to scream,

to wake us, to warn us, to bleed out loud

and save our meaning.


At Horseneck Beach

Body surfing, inside the wave the world

becomes a stroke of swirled oil paints,

bright colors mixed green-orange-yellow and

it roars in your ears as your body vibrates

and you know you are touching the great Other,

and it’s loud. It shouts, “What are you doing here?”

Not angry, concerned. Can you take such

foreign intensity? Sometimes you get pummeled

against the bottom, lifted, thrashed, scraped 

along, tumbled.


Now I wash up on the sand in the low surf, sit up and 

turn to face the next wave coming in but its forty-five

years later, that was at the beach, at Horseneck Beach, 

the cold New England water bleeding bright red seaweed. 


I see my young father still out there, waist deep, 

sideways, arms up, eyes out to sea, poised, 

waiting for a big one to take him in. 


Stay there! I shout, and struggle back towards him.


Patrick Cole is a dual-national American living in Barcelona. Poetry of his was published recently in Angry Old Man, The Offbeat, Arsenic Lobster, The Ekphrastic Review and The Heron Tree. My fiction has appeared in numerous publications including the Writing That Risks anthology, Rivet, Parcel (a Pushcart Prize nominee), High Plains Literary Review (also a Pushcart Prize nominee), and The Conium Review. A one-act play of his was a finalist in the Knock International Play Competition and was produced in Seattle.

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