The National Poetry Review

Brady Kamphenkel


The stars tonight are sobbing. They leak
tears of light from eyes of light.
I’ve never seen them do that.

I’ve seen them look awfully sad before
and lonely, fragile in those firm night skies
that let a jet or two, a satellite, glow by

but I’ve never seen stars cry — let alone sob.
If I weren’t so far away, …. —but I am
so far away. And really,

who are they? And to them, who am I?
They go by so many names up there.
I am more of a faces person.

I might have taken the time to learn them.
Visited, time to time.
It wouldn’t have taken very much.

I might have reached out to them,
placed my hand with care on their shoulder,
met their eyes like light reflected in water

without shame—and said something.
I don’t know what exactly—
something, though.

Even if I made no sense at all
or sounded cliched and hollow—
even if all they heard were their own names

through all their heaving heavenly sorrow
—even then
they would know they at least might be known—

that they are not leftover light
fleeing far and fast from a source
already dead, for all we know.

BRADY KAMPHENKEL lives and teaches writing in Duluth, Minnesota. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cave Wall, SLANT, 2River, and elsewhere. He is a graduate of the Stonecoast in Maine.

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