Planetary – a poem by Jesse Wolfe


—like hopping on a moving train,
my duffel in hand: someone’s shouting,
maybe at me.

Either you escort me somewhere
or something else carries you.
You dreamed for years of California:
you said, our house may be smaller,
but sun will drench our evenings
(I’d just shoveled our porch
that sludgy Christmas in Vermont)
and your vision, like a planet, bloomed in my mind.
I saw gardens of exotic succulents
on a block of bungalows, so close to a beach
salt-breezes seasoned our meals.

Next, you wove fables around the synagogue:
somehow, our children—if we had them—would flower
in the canopy of my mother’s faith.

But nothing agreed to remain itself.
Not the language of computer coding,
not the markets for your whimsical figurines—
the dinosaur that folds into a car,
the astronaut whose movable arms
appear to dance and swim.
Not the faces of our friends
(Al’s, collapsed in bels palsy and depression,
Stella’s and Dave’s, whisked into memory
when he got hired in Japan),
nor my own, sagging and greying
as you reassessed your dreams.

We met in Milwaukee
(that bar’s now a small grocery store),
Springsteen blaring on the speakers.
You wore earrings then: planet earths, dangling
toward your shoulders.
I opened with a cliché:
something like, is the world your oyster?
You retorted, staring straight into me:
didn’t I think everything was possible?


Jesse Wolfe is a professor of English at California State University, Stanislaus. He is the author of Bloomsbury, Modernism, and the Reinvention of Intimacy (Cambridge UP, 2011) and the recipient of an award from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Wolfe is the winner of the Hill-Müller Poetry and August Derleth Poetry Contests, and his work has been published in New Millennium WritingsPenumbraRed River ReviewRiver Poets JournalHenniker ReviewShanti, and elsewhere.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s