Inspiration for poems: The poetry of outer space

Lunar eclipse photo taken by my son with iPhone and telescope

Lunar eclipse photo taken by my son with iPhone and telescope

November is a difficult month for me. I go kicking and screaming into the cold and dark of the Northern Hemisphere’s winter. It’s that time of year where we realize the calendar is wrapping up, and we didn’t do all the things we intended. Between that pressure and the pressure of the holidays — OMG: the holidays! — it makes me want to spend the next four months in bed. (UPDATE POST-U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: More like wanting to spend the next four *YEARS* in bed.)

A week or so ago, on a Monday, I was up by 5:30 a.m. and didn’t finish running around with the boys for sports and study groups until after 10 p.m. Our schedule has a Tasmanian devil effect on me: spinning, spinning, spinning, muttering, sputtering, slobbering, grumbling. But there are moments of clarity. Some are emotional, like this: as he gets out of the car one of my very large teenagers leans his head against my shoulder before he heads off into the world. That point of contact grounds me. Reminds me: breathe, Mama. There’s much love and comfort. (UPDATE: It’s a real struggle to remember this today.)

Other moments of clarity are literal, like the night sky that Monday night once we turned onto our road just after 10:30 p.m. That’s a different kind of spinning, the slow, slow pan of the movie camera as the protagonist takes in the vast world she’s learning to love — or at least navigate — all over again. (UPDATE: We’ve been dealt a serious blow in navigating this world. Doesn’t Mars sounds pretty nice right about now?) Breathe, mama.

And so… outer space, spinning, breath. It’s poetry all on its own without us having to do a thing, but of course we can’t help ourselves. “The universe” — the literal universe — isn’t easy to write about, but it always delights me to attempt it or at least work it into something.(UPDATE: And maybe it will help today — just a little bit — to zoom out. Up. Away.)

Here are some photo galleries I want to save to use for writing inspiration. Feel free to borrow them. Many of the galleries include detailed descriptions with great words to use in poems!

I get a little nerdy about these sorts of things. I have to step away from the Google machine or I’ll never do anything but look at pictures of outer space. I’ll let you know if I actually write a poem based on any of these images. I may even share one! (If you do, and publish it online, let me know in the comments. I’d love to read it!)

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