Published on Academy of American Poets (

Radar Data #12

It was in the absence of light
as when near new moon and
no moonlight; as when a part

of a picture is in shadow (as
opposed to a light); as when
in the condition of being

hidden from view, obscure,
or unknown—in concealment,
or else without knowledge

as regards to some particular;
and of the weather, season,
air, sky, sea, etc., characterized

by tempest; in times, events,
circumstances etc. subject to
tempers; inflamed, indicative,

predictive, or symbolical of
strife (harbinger of coming
trouble)—a period of darkness

occurring between one day &
the next during which a place
receives no light from the sun,

and what if it is all behind us?
I no longer fear the rain will
never end, but doubt our ability

to return to what lies passed.
On the radar, a photopresent
scraggle of interference, as if

the data is trying to pretend
something’s out there where
everything is lost.


Copyright © 2013 by Lytton Smith. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on October 10, 2013. 

About this Poem

"People are always curious where a name like 'Lytton' comes from - and it's not from modernist biographer Lytton Strachey, but gothic novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton. He famously came up with the opening phrase (in Paul Clifford) 'It was a dark and stormy night.' But I've begun to feel guilty mentioning that; his opening sentence is actually pretty good, so I've begun writing a whole series of poems that try to translate, rework, recuperate it." —Lytton Smith


Lytton Smith

Lytton Smith's most recent poetry collection is My Radar Data Knows Its Thing (Foundlings Press, 2018). 

Date Published: 2013-10-10

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