Sherman Pearl is a retired journalist and publicist who has published four books (latest: The Poem in Time of War, Conflu:X Press, 2004) and is working on a fifth. He is among the founders of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival and a former co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets. Sherman's work has appeared in more than 50 literary journals and anthologies (notably Sam Hamill's Poets Against the War anthology). His awards include 1st prize in the 2003 competition of the National Writers Union, judged by Philip Levine. Most recently, he was honored with an International Publication Award by the Atlanta Review and the 2007 Anderbo Prize.
If we could name the illness we'd find a cure.
STANDARD TIMERadiance from a body that exploded a million
light years away reached out telescopes yesterday,
just in time to remind us
that the clockwork universe has forever
been whirling toward oblivion, that the serene
night sky is a time machine out of whack.
What can we do, love, in this diminishing light
but turn the hands back, recoup the hour
we lost last spring. What can we do
with this small gift of time
but rock it away on our porch swing and forget
that time has made swings and porches
passe. I know that the consellations
are racing apart but they seem so permanent now,
familiar as friends who don't fade a day
till the night they die. Tonight, in this hour
of consolation, nothing's moving
but us, our back and forth, this slow pendulum.
ROCKET SCIENCEThis poem is not rocket science
yet it, too, is trying to thrust itself out of orbit,
rise into the unknown. It will not,
however, rain missiles on unseen enemies;
nor was it fathered by transplanted Nazis.
Rocket science is what easy "ain't".
Art is infinitely more fragile; builds spaceships
out of spider webs. But it knows
how to mourn those lost in the ether;
it lets us witness their travels through time.
It is not rocket science
but it hitchhikes onto the scientsts' rockets.
When they land on alien worlds
it unveils the beauty under the bleakness;
it transmits urgent reports from the dark side.
Art is the lonely capsule
that wanders through space after the rockets
have fallen away. It is the gasp
of astronauts who've glimpsed a magnificence
science can't name. It is that name.
© 2008 Sherman Pearl