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Poem of the Week by Jerry McGuire

Venus Transit

By Jerry McGuire

The moon and the stars

The objects on Mars…

– Billy Eckstine, “I Want to Talk about You”

Now it’s time to believe in

the stars again, to believe

them in, to life and all, as all

around the world tonight men

and women will sit down, after

a day of staring at the sun,

and try to say something I

am trying to say. What is it

we want to talk about? Ella

Fitzgerald, with her silk-stocking

voice, seemed to know. Billy

Eckstein, all depths of flowing

water, knew too. But we’re really

in the dark. Like me, all those

men and women may have heard:

the next lineup like this (that small

dark pill sliding – pulsing and sliding –

slow across the hot, puffy face

of the sun like a stethoscope

in search of a beat or a clot

struggling towards the heart) will be

eight years from now, the next

one after that another hundred years.

So let’s try hard this time,

friends, whatever it is that black

dot is telling us: if we miss

it now, we’ll only have one

more chance. Something we all sensed

we almost knew will be lost in transit,

not swallowed up in fire but simply drifting

out of our sight into perfect cold and dark.

JERRY McGUIRE will read from his work at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the University at Buffalo Poetry Collection, 420 Capen Hall, UB North Campus, Amherst. This is the title poem of his 2012 Outriders Poetry Project competition-winning collection, which was published last month by the Buffalo-based press. McGuire, who received his Ph.D. in English from UB in 1981, teaches creative writing, poetics and film studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.