My Old Friend in the Sky
She knows I'm a poor castaway
This is the final part of my series exploring different themes in my poetry comics. You can find the other parts here:
Part 1: We Spotted the Ocean
Part 2: Moon River
Part 3: Here Comes the Rain Again
Part 4: Rocky Mountain High
Today we are going to talk about the stars.
hold someone you love
stare together at the stars
bathe in the wonder
A few days ago I shared this comic again on Twitter and mentioned that I think of all my poems, this one comes closest to explaining my philosophy. I don’t know of anything more meaningful that we can do than sharing a sense of wonder at our world and universe with those we love.
This is why I make these poetry comics, to try and communicate and cultivate a sense of wonder.
we search the heavens
for answers hiding within
the walls of our hearts
This comic was paradigm-shifting for me. It was the first time I believed that I could make poetry comics that others might find interest in. It was the first time an illustration came remotely close to what was in my head. This comic, and most of my other star-themed comics, break a key “rule” of comics.
Comics are supposed to be sequential art. You see time shifting from panel to panel, even if the panels are just moments apart. But I like to show a single scene and chop it up into different panels.
There are also plenty of people who believe that you should never mix poetry with pictures of any kind because you should let the words convey all the imagery.
So far, no comic cops or poetry police have come busting down my door, so I will keep breaking rules.
I also adapted this comic into a stop-motion animation for TikTok:
Enable 3rd party cookies or use another browser
crabs can see the stars
do they dream of swimming in
the celestial sea?
One thing I’ve been fortunate with in my life is that I’ve never had a shortage of ideas. I have the opposite problem. Everything I encounter sparks a whole series of ideas for different projects. I saw an article online about how marine biologists discovered that the eyes of crabs can perceive the stars I began to wonder what crabs think of the heavens.
This poem flowed from that mental meandering.
As for this comic, I wanted to give it the whimsical feeling of a children’s book. I imagined the illustrations could accompany a story about some series of journeys different crabs take.
past midnight we skulked
into a dark, wild meadow
gaped at Milky Way
This poem comes from a camping trip where I took my two oldest kids out in the middle of the night to see the Milky Way. It’s one of my favorite memories. I want to make more poetry comics about the Milky Way in particular. In Chinese, the Milky Way is called the Silver River (銀河系) or the Heavenly River (天河). I love the poetry of these names for our galaxy and want to find a way to include them.
underneath Orinon’s belt
on a lonely beach
This early comic has a special place in my heart because I was finishing it up when my kids all came into my den to ask me something and they all oohed and ahhed at it. You’ve undoubtedly noticed I love paring the ocean and the night sky.
If I could, I would spend my whole life on the beach watching the sky at night.
I wish on sea stars
they never betray you like
those shooting stars do
This poem is a great example of my twisted sense of humor. I love the idea of feeling let down by wishing on a shooting star and choosing a substitute. When I was in high school, I had an idea for a parody thing where you would hear a distorted electric guitar version of Twinkle Little Star (think Jimmy Hendrix playing The Star Bangled Banner), and a little girl’s voice narrating something like this:
Starlight star-bright, first star I see tonight
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have this wish I wish tonight—
Damn it, that’s a satellite.
I really have never grown up.
As all light is extinguished from the universe,
I find myself longing to listen to songs
I first heard on the radio in my youth.
This three-line poem is not a haiku. It’s a freestyle form I’ve been experimenting more and more with. You will be seeing more comics like this in the near future. These are influenced by micro-fiction and by the poetry of Mark Strand. His collection Almost Invisible is a series of intriguing prose poems. That book has been a big influence on the way I think about poetry.
Why isn’t this three-line poem a haiku? This strikes at the heart of a controversial topic for some poets. I write what is often called formal haiku, that is I use a strict syllable count of 5-7-5. Most English language haiku poets write free-verse haiku, where there is no syllable count, but the poems follow other haiku conventions around kigo (season words) and wabi-sabi. Instead, you write three short lines. Most of the freestyle haiku poem lines are shorter than five syllables. Virtually every prestigious poetry journal that accepts haiku prefer free-verse haiku poems.
I rant about this from time to time, so I will save you from reading more about this here and save it for the essay I’m halfway working on about what a haiku is.
The TL/DR summary is I think both formal and free-verse haiku are valid and '“true” haiku. I choose to write mostly formal haiku because that is what most people in the English-speaking world understand a haiku is—and that notion comes from what they are taught in school. I want to write for readers, not poetry editors.
staring from the shore,
I can’t tell where ocean ends
and night sky begins
If this strange Weirdo Poetry thing I started without any forethought or planning ever accomplishes anything, I hope it encourages more people to walk along the beach at night and watch the stars.
If there is still magic in the world, that is where you will find it!
Weirdo Poetry is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, become a free or paid subscriber.
Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed these poetry comics and I hope they inspire you to create and to be out in our wonderful world.
P.S. I love every Reina del Cid song I’ve ever heard. Not only is her music inspiring, but I love her whole approach to her career. I had two of her songs in mind for this issue of the newsletter. I went with Cassiopeia, but it could just as easily have been Carl Sagan. You can find both below:
Just wanted to say I’ve enjoyed the series of posts and the additional sharing about your internal thoughts about and approach to your art.