News Poem: ‘Magnetic Reconnection’

Magnetic Reconnection


The fire of two engines soon discarded

lifts the pen-shaped craft

above the atmosphere. In space


the pen blooms and stacked

quadruplets emerge to measure

space weather, or something near:


for weather you’d need something

in the nothing and there’s not.


NASA calls the mission magnetospheric

multiscale, or in its more poetic

moments, magnetic reconnection.


The sun shoots something off,

and we don’t know why, or what

it does to us. It barely even exists.


Fire up the engines.

The four craft fly


in meridian directions, equidistant

from the earth and sun.

They turn their metal eyes in time.


Sun waves and earth waves

red rover, reconnect.

The four craft bask in the conflict,


take pictures. Insane,

they shoot nothing in the dark.

“I started writing Magnetic Reconnection on Friday, March 13, a day after NASA launched the Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft. I’ve been interested in NASA’s missions since last year, when I co-created a comic strip about the Stardust mission that was launched in 1999. Both the Stardust and the MMS missions have a modest, temporary quality that seems poetic to me. When I heard the phrase “magnetic reconnection” it immediately sounded like a way to fit space travel into a more comfortable size for a poem.” — James Anthofer

The Colorado Independent‘s News-Stained Poetry Project features poems that are about the news, products of the news, responses to the news. “News stained” is meant as a badge of honor, a reference to the long tradition of the poet as witness. As Carolyn Forché wrote, politics can sometimes be seen as a “contaminant to serious literary work,” something to be avoided. But that way of thinking, she said, “gives the political realm too much and too little scope… It renders the personal too important and not important enough.” News developments, whether or not they are reported, shape our personal lives every day. We don’t often think in the moment about how that is happening and what it means. We should think more about it. Poets think about it. And we want to help encourage them to write more about it.

Please send submissions to tips@www.coloradoindependent.comsubject line “poem,” with a short bio and some mention of where and when the poem was written.


MMS Spacecraft Animation via NASA

James Anthofer is a freelance writer living in Cincinnati, Ohio. His arts journalism is featured in the City Beat, his poetry has appeared in the Cold Mountain Review, and his comic strip appears in the most recent issue of the new journal/magazine Table Talk.