Journal of Writing & Environment

Burning Skies, Empty Skies: Web Rove

by Claire Kruesel

How do we resonate with the loneliness of expansive space? What does it mean, this paradox of how nothing is lost and yet everything is constantly being burned? We think it’s nothing for a while (from Silent Film, “The future lends/ the past its battered light”). In one poem, a mouth comprehends void as an answer: a comforting reemergence of the burned-up nothing. In another, a mouth’s skipping lack-of-signal accuses the mistakes inherent in our interpretations. And from a rabbit to a loved one, naming the space – the spaces we occupy – carries power. What do we tell ourselves about emptiness? I hope you enjoy the circuitous journey from revived stars to a white-noise sky.

West Texas Nocturne” by Tarfia Faizullah (from The American Poetry Review)

Faizullah offers a quiet, dusky perspective on the Texas horizon I’ve only seen briefly from a van window. Her earned relationship with the land, and with the sky above it, is witness to how our machines change what’s there – and how the land witnesses what changes us.

The Substitute” by Ken Poyner (from Monkeybicycle)

This is a fun read, and I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll summarize vaguely: a man finds happiness in anonymous-ish old newspapers. Though the tone differs from the other pieces in this web rove, “The Substitute” creatively addresses what identity really offers us, and whether our “spaces” are ever really safe.

Echo” by Colin Pope (from Valparaiso Poetry Review)

In this sensitive and concise remembrance, Pope presents us with a man struggling with identity: how to carry it completely into the future, and who does the carrying.

Silent Film” by Patrick Ryan Frank (from Boxcar Poetry Review)

This poem’s original imagery carves a distinct-faced reality that pivots in the middle: the truth somewhere between empty and full, while both exist like a “slapstick fade to war.” We see, but we do not hear, and this poem carries us through the web rove narrative from echo to repurposing emptiness.

Metronome, lately adagio” by Lynne Thompson (from Pool)

Ambiguity reigns in this “could be might be” observation, another aphoristic short poem turning in the middle (in fact, it shares nine-lines-with-a-central-truth structure with “Silent Film”). The last line, however, is what will compel you forward, like an icicle pen in your hand that must write before it melts. I won’t ruin it for you.