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The Committee to Upgrade Celestial Signs


ISSUE:  Winter 2001
meets once a year
                    to re-evaluate old myths
                                   that spangle heaven:
                          Taurus,             Draco,
               Perseus,
                     Boötes. . .
               outdated in their Greek shining.
Quickly renamed,
                     they are reconfigured into modern shapes
                          —cluster by cluster—
                     Guitarus Major,       Double Arches,
        Empire State Building,
                              Bottle of Coke . . .

Each fall,
                the firmament glitters like a new marquee,
                      a hit parade of celebrities
                                          to correspond
        with the season’s upcoming shows:
                where Cepheus glittered—
                               the visage of an actress
                                                  shines;
   Libra morphs into the body
                            of a reigning hunk;
        the Pleiades burn all night—
                               divas in a female rock group.
Trained over centuries
                       to forget the past
entire populations suffer
                            from cultural
                                              amnesia
                            catalyzed by constant change—
“This is NOW!”
                      a favorite bumper sticker shouts,
        and
                ”Welcome to the Interactive Cosmos!”
Constellations rise and fall,
                            brief as ads
                                              that flash across the blank screen
                                                      of heaven.
Computers work around the clock
                            to thread stars
                                              into relevant patterns
        while last year’s icons
                            fade
                                          like the memory
        Of someone’s face
                        before cosmetic surgery.

At last
              the Committee votes on current choices,
                                          having sifted
        through a copious Printout
                                of Possible Skies:
Hands go up around the table
                                     as they nod and smile—
        with the stroke of a finger
                                   the Zodiac is realigned
            against the infinite blackness behind the stars.

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