Sherman Pearl is a retired journalist and publicist who came to poetry in his senescence. Since then he 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 40 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.

WHO'S NEXT?

If they could banish Pluto
for being too small, too obscure--
if they could kick him
out of the family
because the name they'd
given him was too underworld--
if they could downgrade him to orphan
condemned to circle
the house forever, peering in
through sun-lit windows

who's next?
Saturn for his gaseous lack
of substance? Mercury, too hot
to be civilized? Venus
for being suspicously
brilliant or Mars for his failure
to produce the life forms
our comic books promised?

I mean, when they came
to ostracize Pluto--that unseen
star of my cosmos, my
farthest-out friend--
the faceless part of me said
No matter, he was not like us.

But the part of me
that was disowned, designated
as "other", still wears
a yellow star. It orbits
endlessly outside the spheres
of more desirable bodies.
It waits
for the system's
purifiers to return
with hounds and flashlights,
searching the night for aliens.

 

ATLAS AGONISTES

Upsy-daisy you went
light as a laugh
high as my hand could stretch

and sure of the strength
love has given me
I held you there
halfway between sun and safety

so you could see your horizons

Atlas I was and you the world
I carried across the sky like a trophy
all triumph and glitter

you pretending to fly
I pretending to be immortal

till I faltered under the burden
I had to uphold
the weight of your fragility

and lowered you to my shoulder
as I sank to one knee

and saw I was kneeling on clouds
supported by nothing but
fear of failing you
and plummeted from the heights

of the myth I'd made of myself

and you fell from my grasp
and for all my soothing assurances
I could not lift you up.

 

ROCKET SCIENCE

This 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.



 

Sherman Pearl Moonday poetry reading

 

2006 Sherman Pearl


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