“Paper Moon” by John C. Mannone

Paper Moon
Willow Brook Elementary School Star Party

Starlight couldn’t clear the clouds outside,
but light was thick inside the classroom,
Kris’ classroom of discovery wasn’t polluted

by the dark. Its walls, as real as make-believe,
cornered part of the universe: plastered pieces
of heaven hung with plastic stars & cardboard
comets.

A field of telescopes edged the tiled floor
on just the right squares. Children came from
everywhere with eyes opened, minds & hearts,
too.

They wished upon a twinkling star and winked
at the man in the moon, then giggled when
I said that he had smiled back.

These future astronauts, teachers, poets, lovers
of nature, looked inside their world—a mirror
in a tube—reflecting & inverting the crescent
moon.

I watched them ponder and wonder; I could
almost hear their thoughts, the loud whisper
of mystery:

Don’t the cows know they’re upside down,
and that their milk will spill the Milky Way
—a paper trail of white confetti stars?

And on invisible strings I pointed to,
an origami spaceship folded space and time,
holding in its seams the scribbling of equations

yet to be imagined. I said to follow it. Quest
the North Star that’s compassing the black-
board of space, but I warned them to try not

to squint along the path, for light is fragile
on paper canvas with its paper moon and
paper dreams, like hearts, tear too easily.

~*~

John C. Mannone

John C. Mannone has work in Artemis, Poetry South, Blue Fifth Review, New England Journal of Medicine, Peacock Journal, Gyroscope Review, Baltimore Review, Pedestal, Pirene’s Fountain, and others. He’s the winner of the 2017 Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Appalachian literature and the recipient of two Weymouth writing residencies. He has three poetry collections: Apocalypse (Alban Lake Publishing) won 3rd place for the 2017 Elgin Book Award; Disabled Monsters (The Linnet’s Wings Press) featured at the 2016 Southern Festival of Books; and Flux Lines (Celtic Cat Publishing) —love-related poems using science metaphors due out in 2018. He’s been awarded the 2017 Horror Writers Association Scholarship, two Joy Margrave Awards for Nonfiction, and nominated for several Pushcart, Rhysling, and Best of the Net awards. He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex, Silver Blade, and Liquid Imagination. He’s a professor of physics near Knoxville, TN. http://jcmannone.wordpress.com

Featured Image: Brigitta Schneiter

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