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Tuesday, July 21, 2020


by Lee Nash

NEOWISE—your one-size-fits-all comet,
or call me C/2020 F3—
I’m hardly striving for the poetic,
named for an infrared telescope. Find me
booming near the northwestern horizon,
gassing off through the zigzag stars of Lynx,
zooming to the Great Bear, and on
to you, dear Earthlings, to be your Jumbo Jinx.
A survivor—I’m back from the far side,
SOHO’s tracking my line; ATLAS and SWAN
are steam, their bodies disintegrated...
It’s enough to make a messenger wan.
Darlings, though I’m unpredictable,
I do my utmost to be a spectacle.

I’ll do my utmost to be a spectacle,
an astral show before I dissipate,
though it’s not under my control...
To miss me would be rather unfortunate.
If I die, I’ll light up your skies; if not,
see you in 8786!
Catch me chilling in Auriga’s chariot,
conscious of my mission to transfix –
that’s why I’m here, after all, to wake
you Homo sapiens from your dopey state.
A Sign to break crass rhythms, wipe this slick
of insolence from your brows, conflate
your problems with my stellar viewpoint,
at risk of putting all your noses out of joint.

Risking putting all your noses out of joint,
I really must make clear to you, the heat
is on—for you, not just for me. Climate
is a touchy subject, isn’t it?
Excuse me? What about your right
to holidays and international travel? Of course!
But from where I’m flying the desperate plight
of islanders is difficult to ignore:
I see grandmothers planting mangroves,
their bare feet sinking into deep water,
bushfires out of control, great de-frosts
and fry-ups, dwindling groundwater...
Hence, my humble attempt to purify
your thoughts with a brief, erratic fly-by.

Your thoughts. With a brief, erratic fly-by,
I’m unlikely to change your perspective.
You’re far too set in your ways by now; I
doubt I’ll get your attention. Forgive
my cynicism... But I’m no sungrazer,
no ice crystal who doesn’t give two hoots,
no bolide or passionless trailblazer,
no sympathetic meteor content to shoot
your wish. I am, please, apocalyptic.
Dears, don’t take this badly, but if I were
to stray from my elliptic,
and plunge into your globe, the saboteur
of your finest achievements... What calamity!
What tsunami of plastic debris!

What a tsunami of plastic debris
would wash up on your greasy sardined shores!
Breathe easy, the laws of physics constrain me,
and, of course, I obey the first cause –
a humble servant, not for me to preempt
the misfortunes of the Anthropocene:
I’m merely omen, harbinger, event –
though I’ve been around since Pleistocene.
Excuse me, my humor is misguided.
A world reeling from a harrowing plague,
you’re surely feeling a little jaded
and I fear my message is somewhat vague...
I shall try to be perfectly clear:
get your shit together or the end is near.

Get your shit together or the end is near.
It bears repeating, for you haven’t listened
to scientist or teenager—
instead, you surgically scrub your hands
from guilt. So here I am, NEO—your herald
in a modern guise, your two-tailed flare;
WISE—your perspicacious portent, errand
sent from heaven against your laissez-faire.
Doomsday. What a negative word that is.
Better to leave it to Hollywood,
enjoy it in a bucket seat, drinking cherry fizz.
We comets are misunderstood!
Does this seem like a game or a riddle?
While your ley lines warm up like a griddle?

While your ley lines warm up like a griddle,
you dream of investing in cooler climes,
treat my warning as tarradiddle,
for there’s no one to punish your eco-crimes.
Before I return to the depths of space,
please think of how you consume and pollute...
you’re an odium to the human race
and your energy drive just won’t compute.
Or else, I shall assume a death wish.
I’ve seen it many times on many rounds.
Celestial destroyers are not squeamish,
and sadly pale blue dots aren’t out of bounds.
For your cataclysm, I’m on it:
I’m NEOWISE—your one-size-fits-all comet.

Lee Nash writes poetry and flash fiction. Her work has appeared in diverse journals and anthologies, including Acorn, Ambit, Angle, Magma, Mezzo Cammin, Slice, and The Best Small Fictions 2019. Her first poetry chapbook Ash Keys was published by Flutter Press. She was a 2018 Bath Flash Fiction Award prizewinner, joint winner of the 2019 Princemere Poetry Prize, and is First Prize winner in Fish Publishing’s 2020 The Lockdown Prize (haiku and senryu category).