The Morning Star

Satan turns on his wheel of light,
hovering inside the Senate.

A beauty confesses to the power of air,
a roaring socket of need.

The humans bear forth from their jelly,
six rose-lipped mannequins.

—Who among these is most loved?

We will be forthright in our character analysis.
We will stenograph on bright, bright branches.

Even as someone might bribe us:
with a basket of fruit to our hearth;

with a length of black thread to our dead;
with a boy with that thread in his heart;

with a boy with a snail in his heart;
with a boy with toys in his heart, who are bowing.


Copyright © 2020 by Philip Matthews. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 13, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote ‘The Morning Star’ in winter 2017, on fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. It arose out of concern for political polarization in the U.S. and from the unique coastal forests of the Provincetown dunes. On Inauguration Day 2017, I pulled a Celtic Cross Tarot spread, bookended by Judgment at the heart of the matter, and the World as final outcome. I also stumbled across a dead gull, belly-up in the sand. This poem, part of Witch, holds these occurrences in its heart.”
Philip Matthews