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2022 Issue  >  Poetry  >  Heart of the Milky Way

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"Holiday Cheer"
by Michael Heath

Heart of the Milky Way

Kathryn Gahl

We form ideas. 

We form words. Gods, fairies, angels.

Meanwhile, gamma rays become radio waves

and our little eyes

cannot see

a rainbow of radiation

from puffs of hot gas,

magnetized threads a hundred light years long

ribbons and rings now seen in the

South African Radio Astronomy meerKAT telescope

causing us to craft more words—cosmic soot,

supernovae, and a Trojan asteroid exposing those

gods, fairies, and angels slow to mention

who they are, always were:


Creation and Destruction.

White mist. Black hole.

Lightening. Darkening. 


Look up.

Look around.

Look through. 


We live as long as we look. 

Bee Boxes


in January

a great wind

crushes the door


a blizzard traps

people at 

home, cringing


while bee boxes

stand in a swirl

of white on white

seeming to scrape the sky


a painting

a still life


though inside

the bees dance

to a tune 

no one knows.

Kathryn Gahl left a Wisconsin farm to earn dual degrees in English and nursing, then worked as a nurse manager before studying writing at Bread Loaf, Sewanee, Stonecoast, and the Iowa Writer's Workshop Fiction Intensive. Her cross-genre works, appearing in many journals, anthologies, and ekphrastic shows, have won many awards, including Glimmer Train, Margie, and Wisconsin People & Ideas. She is a recipient of the Lorine Niedecker Poetry Award, the Hal Prize for both fiction and poetry, plus an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Library Association. When not playing with words, cooking, or yielding to yoga, she performs live storytelling and dances mad-hot ballroom. She is the author of The Velocity of Love (Water's Edge Press, 2020), Hard Life, Hard Love (Dancing Girl Press, 2022), Messengers of the Gods (Cornerstone Press, 2022), and  The Yellow Toothbrush: A Memoir (Two Shrews Press, forthcoming 2022).

Michael Heath is proud to call beautiful Baraboo, WI his adopted home. He enjoys photographing the Sauk County and state landscapes. A longtime social worker in Wisconsin, Michael currently works as a Resource Specialist at the Coalition for Children, Youth & Families where he supports foster, adoptive, and relative caregivers throughout Wisconsin. Visit

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